Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi will accompany President Joko Widodo to visit five countries in South Asia, namely Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan from 24 to 29 January. In the 4 countries, the President will make a state visit and to India, a working visit. The main focus of this visit is to enhance economic cooperation. Director of South and Central Asia at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ferdy Piay said that India is Indonesia’s big market and has a huge surplus. In Pakistan, Srikanka and Bangladesh, Indonesian trade is also surplus although the amount is relatively small. With Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the trade between the two countries can still be strengthened.
“…The focus of the economy will also be strong as we want to establish stronger trade cooperation, especially with those three countries namely Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. In the visit of Bangladeshi prime minister in 2017, it’s already encouraged with mutual desire to strengthen trade relations. The possibility of preferential trade agreement is being explored,” Ferdy Piay said.
Ferdy Piay further explained that with Sri Lanka, cooperation through preferential trade agreement scheme will also be strengthened. Indonesia and Pakistan have already had Preferential Trade Agreement but cooperation will be enhanced. In addition to strengthening economic cooperation, the visit to Afghanistan boosts Indonesia's humanitarian diplomacy. This visit is also part of Indonesia's vision to develop a stable and prosperous Indo Pacific region. On the same occasion, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir said that the population of India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh is huge, reaching more than 1 billion people. These countries are non-traditional markets of Indonesia. Although the cooperation has been good, many kinds of cooperation will be developed. In India, President Joko Widodo will attend the 25th Anniversary of India-ASEAN and attend the India Republic Day. On the Indian Republic Day, 10 ASEAN heads of state are invited as the guests of honor. ((VOI-Sekarsari/Nrl/Trans Andhyka-Rahmana)