Jakarta wants stronger trade ties with Dhaka

Indonesia wants more comprehensive economic ties with Bangladesh and looks for fresh investment in prospective areas reducing the existing trade gap between the two Muslim countries, its visiting Foreign Minister Dr Raden Mohammad Marty Muliana Natalegawa said on Thursday.

“We want more comprehensive economic partnership (with Bangladesh),” Muliana Natalegawa told a joint press conference at state guesthouse Padma.

His Bangladesh counterpart Dipu Moni was also present at the press conference.

Responding to a question, Muliana Natalegawa said their job is to facilitate the private sector and help them know each other better to identify possibilities and opportunities.

“There’re some sectors — special economic zones here, refining palm oil and coal power plants. These can be some areas where Indonesian entrepreneurs can look for investment,” he said.

The Indonesian Foreign Minister, however, said they would leave it to their country’s private sector and entrepreneurs to identify opportunities and decide.

He agreed to take possible steps to promote trade and minimise the trade gap as the Indonesia has a substantial trade surplus, and there is a need for robust investments.

Responding to a question on the ongoing war crimes trial, he said it is Bangladesh’s internal matter. “We’ve confidence Bangladesh has the capacity to deal with it and overcome the challenge.”

In response to another query, Dipu Moni said the third joint commission meeting between Bangladesh and Indonesia will definitely take place this year. “The last and second one was held in Indonesia. And definitely the third one will be held in Dhaka this year.”

She said Bangladesh invited Indonesian President to visit Bangladesh at a convenient time and the Indonesian Foreign Minister said he would convey the invitation.

Dipu Moni demanded that tariff on Bangladesh readymade garments, ceramics and pharmaceuticals products be reduced. The Indonesian minister assured her of considering the matter.

There was also a deal on visa exemption for diplomats and officials with effect from April 14 next. “We’ve exchanged the final note of notification to implement the visa exemption for diplomats and officials,” she said.

Dipu Moni said they reviewed the existing level of bilateral cooperation with full satisfaction. “We could do much more. We’ll do that.”

She said they also talked about the possible areas of investment, issues of tariff reduction, direct air connectivity, good governance and the issues of regional and global concerns – climate change and disasters.

Muliana Natalegawa arrived here on Thursday noon on a short visit to Bangladesh.

Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni received her Indonesian counterpart at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 12:30pm.

Meanwhile, Natalegawa met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at 6:30pm at Ganobhaban, sources at the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The Indonesian minister is expected to fly back home on Friday morning wrapping up her nearly 24-hour visit to Dhaka. UNB

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