Jakarta, (ANTARA News) - Indonesia and India are currently moving ahead to intensify bilateral ties in various fields, including stepping up cooperation to the level of comprehensive strategic partnership and seeking realization of cooperation in concrete fields.

Efforts to increase cooperation in various fields are currently being discussed between the leaders of both countries amid the current visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Indonesia on May 29-31, 2018.

"Now is the time for Indonesia (and India) to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership. Comprehensive strategic partnership must include concrete cooperation that can only be formulated through increased engagement, including at the leaders` level," President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) remarked during a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday.

President Jokowi received the Indian prime minister, who arrived at the Merdeka Palace at 10:15 a.m. local time.

In order to enhance cooperation, the two countries need to cement a comprehensive strategic partnership by working harder for a mutually beneficial relationship.

Prime Minister Modi`s visit to Indonesia also provides new strength and vigor to the bilateral relations. The year 2019 will mark seven decades of relations between both nations. The president also lauded the continuous improvement in relations between Indonesia and India.

"This visit is very timely amid the emergence of a lot of uncertainty in the world, and I hope this partnership would be able to contribute to stability of peace and for the welfare of the world," the president emphasized.

According to the Presidential Office, the two leaders will witness the signing of some bilateral cooperation agreements between Indonesia and India.

During the bilateral meeting, the two leaders will highlight potential areas of cooperation in marine, economy, and socio-culture as well as discuss regional and global issues.

After a series of meetings at the Merdeka Palace, on Wednesday afternoon, President Jokowi and Prime Minister Modi will attend the India-Indonesia Kite Festival at the National Monument Arena, Jakarta.

He will also attend an Indonesia-India CEO Forum, which is the second event after the first was held during President Jokowi`s visit to India in 2016. The forum aims to bring together businesspersons from Indonesia and India to strengthen business-to-business cooperation.

Indonesian Ambassador to India Sidharto R. Suryodipuro had said earlier that THE visit of Narendra Modi to Indonesia will focus on several agendas. "The prime minister will stay in Jakarta and carry out several agendas," Suryodipuro noted in an interview with Antara in Jakarta, Monday.

In his first visit to Indonesia, which is a follow-up of the state visit of President Joko Widodo to India in December 2016 for the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit, Prime Minister Modi met with President Jokowi, among others to discuss bilateral, regional, and global issues. The bilateral agenda focused on cooperation in politics, defense and security, maritime and economic affairs, and community and cultural ties.

Apart from bilateral cooperation, they also discussed the current conditions and challenges in the region and world as well as ways for both countries to work together and contribute to peace and prosperity.

The ambassador also revealed that several agreement documents will be exchanged during the prime minister`s visit. "As of Sunday night, we recorded a total of 16 memoranda of understanding that are going to be exchanged and recorded. Agreements earlier signed by both parties will also be renewed," he stated.

He explained that the agreements will cover cooperation in various sectors, including defense, transportation, policy planning, pharmaceutical regulations, think tank and networking tanks, as well as outer space.

In the meantime, the chambers of commerce of both countries have also agreed to focus on four sectors: manufacturing, mining, pharmaceuticals, and infrastructure. The agreement was reached by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

"We agreed to focus on four sectors to improve business partnerships from the previous six sectors," Chairman of Kadin Ron Roeslani stated.

Representatives of the business and industry organizations grouped in two chambers of both countries will report to President Jokowi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the outcome of the Indonesia-India CEO Forum.

The CEO Forum is the second meeting after the first was held in 2016 and is a follow up of the strategic partnership between both countries.

When it was first held back in 2016, the forum agreed upon several sectors, including pharmacy, investment, and infrastructure. This year, talks will be held on adding more sectors that will be covered by the forum, as well as expansion, which includes the education sector.

Based on the International Trade Center`s data, Indonesia was the second-largest coal exporter to India after Australia in 2016, while coal imports of HS2701, or coal, briquette, ovoid, and solid fuel made from coal, from Indonesia reached US$3.3 billion and rose to $4.7 billion in 2017.

Vice Chairman of Kadin for the International Relations Division Shinta W. Kamdani remarked that cooperation between the two organizations is essential to improve bilateral business and communication between the governments of both countries.

"In addition, with a 50:50 total trade and investment target of $50 billion by 2025, we must be able maximize all existing frameworks," she noted.

Kamdani remarked that the signed memorandum of understanding also agreed that the two organizations, which overshadow Indian and Indonesian entrepreneurs, will share information related to economic issues, trade, specific sectors comprising manufacturing, infrastructure, mining, and pharmaceutical, and provide support for various activities that can support ease of doing business to entrepreneurs from both countries.

Indonesia holds significance for the Indian economy, as it is the biggest trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. India has become an export destination country for Indonesian palm oil and the second-largest coal importer for India.

With regard to investment, India is also important for Indonesia. India`s investments rose significantly in 2017, more than five folds from $55 million a year earlier to $286.6 million.

Based on data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2017, the Indonesia-India trade balance increased 28.7 percent, with total exports of $14.08 billion and imports at $4.05 billion.

Trade balance between Indonesia and India during the period between January and March decreased by some 3.06 percent, reaching $4.33 billion in 2018 as compared to $4.46 billion in 2017.



(T.A014/A/KR-BSR/A014) 30-05-2018 15:29:30

Reporter: Andi Abdussalam
Editor: Bustanuddin
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