Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto and Malaysian Prime Minister (PM) Anwar Ibrahim agreed to propose collaboration between ASEAN and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as a new economic power.

The agreement was one of the topics discussed at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Special Meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth, and Energy for Development in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on April 28-29, 2024.

In a statement from his office on Monday, Hartarto spoke of having proposed to expand Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) cooperation partners with GCC member countries.

"ASEAN has a large trade bloc, namely RCEP, or ASEAN+6 countries. If we invite GCC countries to the trade bloc, then this will become the largest trade bloc in the world," he remarked.

According to the minister, the trade bloc could facilitate various potential collaborations in the trade, investment, digital economy, sharia finance, MSMEs, and youth exchange sectors.

He explained that exploration of free trade agreement needs to start with GCC countries, while the current agreement needs to be strengthened and expanded further.

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Hartarto stressed that the agriculture, energy, and tourism sectors are essential sectors, considering that these two regions have their own uniqueness, including the potential for cooperation in the fields of energy transition, carbon storage, education, culture, and the halal product industry.

On the same occasion, PM Ibrahim drew attention to these two regions' abilities in boosting their potential in inter-regional cooperation and welcoming sustainable growth amid global uncertainty.

"This dialogue is very important as a momentum to strengthen cooperation between ASEAN and the GCC, especially in terms of trade and investment, especially since Indonesia, Malaysia, and Laos are the troika of the ASEAN Chair this year," he noted.

Troika is a concept of rotating chairmanship of an event to ensure continuity of the issues discussed.

In 2023, Indonesia held the ASEAN chairmanship, with "Epicentrum of Growth" as the theme. The position was handed over to Laos in 2024, which also coincides with the next ASEAN-GCC Summit. Meanwhile, in 2025, the ASEAN Chair will be held by Malaysia.

Hence, Hartarto emphasized that inter-regional cooperation is important, especially to the domestic agenda of achieving a Golden Indonesia by 2045 amid the global economic slowdown and the current escalation of geopolitical tensions.

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Translator: Bayu Saputra, Resinta Sulistiyandari
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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