In her speech at the opening of the Indonesia-Latin America Business Forum which was held in Jakarta on Thursday (14/10), Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi said there are three things that can strengthen Indonesia’s relations with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
First, continued Retno, is to increase all efforts to reconnect the economy between Indonesia and Latin America and the Caribbean. He said various restrictions to suppress the transmission of the COVID-19 virus had hampered direct business interactions and the movement of people between countries. As the situation improves, it is time to reopen the borders of each country. One of them is by opening business travel corridors by implementing strict health protocols.
In the long term, according to Retno, Indonesia and the Latin America and Caribbean regions could expand the travel corridor towards tourist destinations. However, Indonesia together with the Latin America and Caribbean regions must first recognize each other’s COVID-19 vaccine certificates issued by each country.
The second factor that can strengthen Indonesia’s relations with Latin America and the Caribbean is to strengthen cooperation in the creative industries, digital economy and connectivity.
“Innovative solutions are a key driver for accelerating our economic recovery. For both of our regions, the creative economy plays a major role in improving the quality of life and reducing poverty. The creative industry has also proven to be very agile as it proves that it can grow in the midst of a pandemic situation (COVID-19). 19) and at the same time the digital economy is also developing,” said Retno.
Digital and information technology is very important to keep the business going. In Indonesia, this is demonstrated by more than two thousand startups in the technology sector, including five unicorns and one decacorn.
Retno added that McKinsey estimates that at least ten new unicorns will be born in Indonesia in the next decade. For this reason, the digital economy sector has the potential to increase Indonesia’s cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean in the field of digital trade and the creative economy.
To build an interconnected regional economy, said Retno, Indonesia and the Latin America and Caribbean regions need to solve various problems related to connectivity.
The third factor that can strengthen Indonesia’s relations with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean is a partnership on a sustainable and environmentally friendly economy. Retno said Indonesia and the Latin America and Caribbean regions are both committed to reducing global carbon gas emissions.
Therefore, continued Retno, Indonesia is currently encouraging the development of electric cars and renewable energy, including environmentally friendly fuels and solar panels. Retno invited Latin American and Caribbean countries to strengthen investment cooperation in the environmentally friendly economic sector.
Retno said trade between Indonesia and Latin America and the Caribbean is moving in a positive direction. The trade value between Indonesia and the region reached US$ 8.25 billion last year, an increase of 6.45 percent from the trade value of US$ 7.75 billion in 2019.
The positive development, Retno continued, became the main momentum for both sides to accelerate the economic recovery and revive the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the same occasion, the Minister of Trade Muhammad Lutfi hoped that the Indonesia – Latin America and Caribbean Business Forum would be able to increase cooperation between the two parties. Currently more than a third of the total exported global production has increased competition between countries leading to unfair competition, more and more countries are implementing protectionist policies and lack of trust in the multilateral trading system.
“We even witnessed how the trade war between the United States and China resulted in a serious upheaval to global trade. This is a serious issue that must be tackled together.
Therefore, Lutfi calls for more constructive collaboration and more comprehensive cooperation between countries, including between Indonesia and Latin American and Caribbean countries.
Lutfi emphasized that the two still have great opportunities to increase trade cooperation. Imports of goods from Latin America and the Caribbean are only able to fill 0.5 percent of the market in Indonesia. This means that it is still below Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.
The former Indonesian Ambassador to America reminded that this Business Forum is very important to increase cooperation between the two countries because the economies of both parties complement each other.
He said Indonesia needed more supplies of agricultural products, raw material products, manufactured products, and service products from Latin America and the Caribbean.
On the other hand, Indonesia can supply a variety of food products and manufactured products.
Brazilian Ambassador Admits Indonesia’s Important Position
In his remarks, the Brazilian Ambassador to Indonesia Pedro Miguel da Costa e Silva said that Indonesia is an important trading partner for the Latin America and Caribbean region.
According to him, the two sides are close to completing the dialogue process related to trade and economic cooperation.
“This is an important step to move towards the start of trade talks. I hope it will happen soon with your support we can announce the start of the trade agreement,” Pedro said.
Pedro believes the trade agreement will improve relations between Indonesia and countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and provide benefits for business people. (fw/em)