11
April

IAF proves Indonesia`s commitment to Africa

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 Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi said that Indonesia-Africa Forum (IAF) proves Indonesia`s commitment to improve cooperation with the African countries.

"For more than a year we have been working hard to prepare this forum. It shows Indonesia`s commitment to strengthen its love and cooperation with Africa," the minister stated at the opening of the IAF at the Nusa Dua Bali Convention Center on Tuesday.

Indonesia is eager to hold cooperation with the spirit of equality, care, and collaboration, which is sustainable and mutually beneficial.

"You may be wondering why Indonesia initiated the IAF; the immediate answer is that Indonesia loves Africa. Our love for Africa is not only reflected in words but also in deeds," Marsudi noted.

She stressed that Indonesia wants to play a role and be a part of development in African countries, by studying the vision of Africa 2063 and monitoring the progress of the African Free-Trade Continent. 

The first day of IAF will consist of some panel of discussions between Indonesia and African countries on policy making and perspectives on strategic topics such as economic diplomacy, infrastructure development, financing facility initiatives, digital transformation, and strategic industries.

On the second day (April 11), an Indonesia-Africa Business Forum will be held to discuss important topics such as connectivity, digital economy, agriculture, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), South-South and Triangular Cooperation, as well as the future of Indonesia-Africa economic relations. Throughout the forum, ministers, high-level officials, CEOs, bankers, and leaders of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Indonesia and African countries will discuss and exchange ideas.

"I am glad that a number of Indonesian state-owned companies have participated in this forum, including Pertamina, PT INKA, PT Dirgantara Indonesia, PT PAL, PT TIMAH, and many others," Marsudi remarked.

The foreign minister also welcomes the CEOs and business representatives from Africa, including Ethiopian Airlines, Topwide Ventures Limited, Africa Export-Import Bank, and Amirco Commercial Service.

IAF is an event held for the first time by the Indonesian government as a platform to encourage concrete economic cooperation between Indonesia and African countries. IAF is in line with President Joko Widodo`s encouragement for Indonesia to enter non-traditional markets, especially Africa. The Indonesian government seeks to convert the proximity of Indonesia`s political relations with African countries to the proximity of economic relations.(antara)

11
April

Indonesia is committed to enhancing cooperation in the field of infrastructure development with African countries through the establishment of a task force in the designated field.

"The Indonesian Government will establish a task force and visit several potential African countries," Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs Luhut B. Pandjaitan said in a release received on Tuesday.

The task force will function as a body to identify and solve problems as well as cooperation potentials in the field of infrastructure development between Indonesia and African countries, Pandjaitan said after attending the opening ceremony of the Indonesia-Africa Forum held in Nusa Dua, Bali. Its members will consist of government officials, State-owned Enterprises, private sectors and national banks.

"We want to ease everything, such as adjusting regulations, preparing paying mechanism. Most importantly it is based on the nation`s interest, transparency is absolute," Pandjaitan said.

Pandjaitan revealed that state-owned railway company PT INKA will have some projects in Africa, as well as other state-owned enterprises such as PT WIKA in the field of construction. Strategic industries, such as Indonesian ship manufacturer PT PAL and state-owned aircraft company PT DI are also interested to expand their market to Africa, he said.

In the implementation of IAF in Bali on April 10-11, Indonesia had invited at least 53 African countries to attend. It will be a historical event, as it will be organized for the first time by the Indonesian government and will serve as a platform to forge stronger ties with African countries since the Southeast Asian country is eyeing Africa`s non-traditional market.

Director of Africa of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Daniel Tumpal Simanjuntak said that the IAF is also expected to serve as a platform for the participating countries to discuss tariff barriers. One of the efforts to be undertaken by Indonesia to reduce tariffs is to build cooperation with the Economic Community of West African States, a regional economic entity comprising 15 member countries in West Africa.

Meanwhile, Indonesia`s biggest trade partners in the Sub-Saharan Africa include Nigeria, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Benin, and Djibouti, while the biggest partners in North Africa are Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco. Moreover, the forum is expected to serve as a platform for Indonesian and African stakeholders to discuss business deals.

Indonesia`s main exports to the African region are palm oil, processed foods and beverages, soaps, paper, garments, and motor vehicles, while its main imports from the region are crude oil, cotton, cacao kernel, pulp, chemical materials for fertilizers and industry, and tobacco.

Several issues to be highlighted during the IAF include those related to agriculture, strategic industry, strengthening economic diplomacy, digital economy, infrastructure, and connectivity. Indonesia will also promote products of its strategic industries, such as a medium-range, twin-engine CN-235 transport aircraft produced by IPTN, as one of its primary products in the African market.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla officially opened the IAF on Tuesday. Kalla revealed the total value of Indonesia`s trade with Africa in 2017 reached US$8.85 billion. This value is increased by 15.49 percent compared to the previous year.

As the second growing economy in the world, Africa has many hidden potentials. Kalla even mentioned Wakanda, a fictional African nation and home to the superhero Black Panther, as a parable of how Africa has "hidden gems". According to Kalla, Indonesia and Africa are also in the process of building massive infrastructure to boost the economy. (antara) 

11
April

FM: Indonesian & Madagascar Hold Bilateral Talks

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Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi held bilateral talks with her Madagascan counterpart, Henry Rabary-Njaka, on the sidelines of Indonesia-Africa Forum (IAF) at the Nusa Dua Bali Convention Center on Tuesday.

"I have just held talks with the Madagascan foreign minister. At the meeting, we discussed several important issues. First, we discussed the Madagascan government`s plan to open its embassy in Indonesia," Retno said.

The second thing discussed at the meeting was the ways to strengthen economic and agricultural cooperation and explore the possibility of cooperation in palm oil plantation in Madagascar.

"The third thing we have discussed is a plan to realize a joint commission as soon as possible. We will implement a joint commission and discuss concrete cooperation that can be strengthened in the future," he said.

At the meeting, Minister Retno also lauded the Madagascan government`s support for Indonesia`s bid for non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council for the 2019-2020 term. Meanwhile, Minister Henry Rabary-Njaka noted the effort made by the two countries to look into the possibility of agricultural cooperation including palm oil production.

"We have prepared two thousand hectares of land in Madagascar. But at my meeting with local palm oil companies they need 20,000 hectares of land," he said.

He further expressed his country`s keen interest to join the Council of Palm Oil Producer Countries (CPOPC). (antara)

11
April

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi is optimistic that air connectivity between Indonesia and Ethiopia will open wider opportunities to enhance economic ties between Indonesia and Africa.

"The air connectivity will serve as a new start. We still have one. We want to have more," Marsudi said at a panel discussion of the Indonesia-Africa Forum (IAF) held at the Bali Nusa Dua Convention Center on Tuesday.

At the first ever IAF, GMF AeroAsia signed cooperation agreements with Max Air and Ethiopian Airlines. In total, 10 cooperation agreements including those from the aviation industry were signed with a total value of US$586.56 million during the IAF 2018. With the signing of the cooperation agreements in the air transportation sector, trade between Indonesia and Africa will hopefully increase. Although the value of Indonesia-Africa trade is still not too large, it grew significantly to US$8 billion last year, up 15 percent compared to the year before.

African countries export crude oil, cotton, and cocoa bean to Indonesia, while their imports from Indonesia include motor vehicles, palm oil and instant noodle.  Indonesia wants to be part of development in Africa, while on the other hand it wants the continent to be part of its development, she said. During the IAF, an exhibition was also held to display a wide range of products from Indonesia`s state-owned and privately-run companies.

The forum brought together 500 delegates comprising government officials, business agents and other stakeholders from both Africa and Indonesia. (antara)