Jakarta, (ANTARA News) - Economic diplomacy has become one of the priorities of the Indonesian foreign policy by boosting the country's economic and trade cooperation with African, Central, and South American countries, Foreign Minister Retno L. P. Marsudi stated.

In her annual press statement here on Wednesday, the minister noted that one of the endeavors that Indonesia had made to strengthen its cooperation with the new markets in Africa was the convening of the Indonesia-Africa Forum in early 2018.

As a result, related parties signed a business agreement worth over US$586 million and a business announcement worth some $1.3 billion, she remarked, adding that Indonesia had also attempted to focus on the new markets in Central and South America.

The endeavor had enabled Indonesia to boost its trade cooperation with countries in Central and South America, including Cuba and Ecuador, with an increase of above 100 percent, Marsudi said.

Indonesia`s economic and trade cooperation with countries in Central and Eastern Europe, including Malta, Latvia, and Slovakia, also showed a similar trend.

"Our endeavor to strengthen our economic diplomacy involves various stakeholders, including state-owned enterprises as well as the banking and private sectors," she remarked.

Empowering the infrastructures of bilateral economic cooperation through the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), Free Trade Agreement, and Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) was also carried out to push economic diplomacy.

This strategy was aimed at increasing the competitiveness of Indonesia`s products in foreign markets. Several negotiations on the CEPA had been completed by Indonesia with countries, such as Australia and Chile, she noted.

"It is the first time for us to negotiate on the PTA with African countries, such as Mozambique and Tunisia. Our PTA negotiations with Morocco and Sri Lanka are still underway," Marsudi stated.

Indonesia has also been approaching several regional economic organizations, including the Economic Community of West African States and Eurasian Economic Union, to discuss the PTA.

"Without these efforts, the competitiveness of our products will be lower than that of other countries' goods," she pointed out.

Economic diplomacy has also helped expand the sales of Indonesia`s strategic industrial products, including the state-owned train maker PT Industri Kereta Api`s (INKA`s) extra strong train cars to Bangladesh and CN-235 aircraft to Senegal.

It also supports investment inflows and the country's infrastructure projects as well as defends Indonesia's palm oil products that have been targeted by those launching black campaigns in several countries, including those in the EU region.

Indonesia has been working closely with Malaysia, two of the world`s main palm oil producers, to face the black campaigns against these strategic products.

"Indonesia will continue to fight against acts of discrimination against our palm oil products," she emphasized.

Reporting by Yuni Arisandy Sinaga, Rahmad Nasution

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Editor: Sri Haryati
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