Jakarta (ANTARA) - Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Minister Teten Masduki is making a working visit to Vietnam on March 21–22, 2024, to bolster economic cooperation between the two nations.

Specifically, he will pursue stronger cooperation in the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), cooperatives, and food production sectors.

"As fellow ASEAN countries, Indonesia and Vietnam have relatively similar economic potential so they need to work together to build collaboration to bolster the two countries' domestic advantages," he said in a press release issued by his ministry here on Thursday.

As part of his visit, Masduki met with several officials in Khanh Hoa province, namely the secretary of the Khanh Hoa Provincial Party Committee, Nguyen Hai Ninh, and the chairperson of the Khanh Hoa Provincial People's Committee, Nguyen Tan Tuan.

The minister said that the potential of the two countries could be optimized through collaboration on increasing food production and downstreaming, involving cooperatives and MSMEs, including through the development of the digital agricultural ecosystem.

Moreover, the ASEAN region has great potential in agriculture and fisheries. This is reflected in data from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the UN, as per which, ASEAN contributed 16.4 percent to the world's total fish production in 2022.

That would be equivalent to 33.7 million tons of the total 205.6 million tons of global fish production.

The FAO data has also shown that more than a fifth, or 181.4 million tons, of the global rice production of 793.7 million tons in 2023 came from ASEAN countries.

Masduki noted that cooperation also needs to be strengthened in research and development in agriculture and fisheries to improve the quality and competitiveness of cooperative and MSME products in the global market.

"It is also essential to increase cooperation in developing business models and partnerships for supply chains of fisheries and agriculture in ASEAN," he added.

He further said that the strengthening of cooperation will result in an expansion of quality jobs for the two countries. At least 27.02 percent of the total workforce in ASEAN works in the agriculture, fishery, and forestry sectors, as per ASEAN Secretariat data from 2023.

Quality jobs are considered essential for increasing the participation of the younger generation in those sectors.

According to the ASEAN Secretariat (2022), ASEAN has 224.2 million young people. Fifty-three percent of them belong to Generation Z (15–25 age group) and 47 percent are Millennials (26–35 age group).

The minister noted that Indonesia is currently focusing on developing several downstreaming initiatives, for instance, for agriculture, fisheries, animal husbandry, and cooperative-based plantation products.

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Translator: Shofi Ayudiana, Raka Adji
Editor: Aditya Eko Sigit Wicaksono
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