Indonesian Ambassador in Pakistan Iwan Suyudhie Amri said on Thursday that an agreement would soon be signed to export one million tonnes of rice from Pakistan to Indonesia by 2019.
He said work was underway to devise a mutually acceptable mechanism. Addressing the members of Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), he invited the local manufacturers, exporters and industrialists to take part in 33rd Trade Expo in Indonesia to be held from Oct 24 to 28 to promote business.
He further revealed that his country had decided to grant 30-day free visa to the traders and visitors from 174 countries for the expo.
Tracing the relations between the two countries, he said that it was friendly and cordial since the inception of two countries. “However, now we should make serious efforts to translate these relations into economic terms.
He said that volume of bilateral trade between the two countries is 2.18 billion dollars which is far less than the existing potential. He further said that law and order situation has improved in Pakistan and it will definitely have positive impact on its exports to Indonesia.
Regarding CPEC, he said that it will attract foreign investment and all regional countries will enjoy its benefits. He said that Indonesia is a country with huge population of 250 million.
“Our domestic market is very strong which has provided us a solid base for speedy economic growth,” he added. Regarding Halal food, he said, Pakistan is speedily undertaking the process of Halal food certification which will help it make maximum Halal exports to the Indonesia.
Commenting on people to people contacts, he said that Indonesia is offering scholarships to Pakistani students which will bring both the communities closer to each other.
Responding to a question about health and education related reforms, he said that Indonesia has allocated 20 percent of its budget for education as elementary level education is free. Similarly, cross subsidy is offered in health sector.
The rich are charged while the poor are getting free treatment. He hoped that the system will be further improved in the coming years.
He also assured to remove the hurdles in the export of rock salt from Pakistan to Indonesia.
He paid glowing tribute to deceased former Ambassador of Indonesia Burhan Muhammad who worked hard to bolster the bilateral relations between the two counties.
Earlier in his address of welcome, Malik Asrar Ahmed Awan, President of MCCI, underlined the importance of the region and said it shares 96 percent of total production of Punjab province and 70 % of the country. He said 47 % wheat, 23 % sugarcane, 50% livestock, and it produces good quality of mangoes.
He said that trade between Pakistan and the Southeast Asian giant has been growing strongly for the last couple of years. The volume of bilateral trade grew from $700 million in 2010 to $2.3 billion in 2016, up 229%, he said.
“Pakistan’s problem is that it is not ready to explore far-eastern markets, including Indonesia. Unless our exporters go for innovation and branding, the situation is not going to change,” said Malik Asrar Ahmed.
The two countries signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2005 and the preferential trade agreement (PTA) in 2012, which became operational in 2013.
Indonesia’s exports to Pakistan increased from $1.2 billion in 2012 to $2.2 billion in 2016-17 while Pakistan’s exports to Indonesia unfortunately declined from $196 million to $137 million.
Pakistan’s major exports to Indonesia include textiles and clothing, rice, vegetables and fruits (mainly oranges) while its major import item from Indonesia is palm oil.