By Anggi M Lubis
The Jakarta Pos
JAKARTA - A decline in bilateral trade, along with maritime and transnational crime, was among the issues addressed in Thursday’s meeting between the Indonesian and Thai foreign ministers, and the two have vowed to enhance economic relations to boost trad
Indonesia Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi welcomed Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai’s first Jakarta visit, saying that she and her counterpart had agreed to enhance economic cooperation between ASEAN’s two largest economies, including a potential aircraft purchase from Indonesian aerospace company PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI).
“Our discussions covered trade, investment, tourism, aviation and issues such as the importance of food security, including skilled labor in the food industry,” Retno explained, adding that there needed to be two-way investment between countries.
“On the aircraft industry, we have a history of Thailand purchasing Indonesian aircraft made by PTDI. That is why Indonesia is offering the product of this strategic industry to Thailand.”
According to data from the Trade Ministry, bilateral trade between Indonesia and Thailand hit US$12.55 billion during January-November last year, that figure representing a roughly 13 percent decline from the same period in 2014. Bilateral trade between the two countries has declined gradually since 2012, when it sat at $18.07 billion.
Pramudwinai said that he would like to see some targets set for bilateral trade between the two countries, adding that a stronger economic relationship between them could set an example for the ASEAN community.
“I certainly want to see a good increase, a fast climb to $16 billion and then to $20 billion. [...] So that we can show all of our ASEAN friends that economic relations between us work like magic,” he said.
Thailand’s aircraft purchases from PTDI started more than three decades ago, when it bought C-212 aircraft from the company — then PT Nurtanio — in 1978. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir said that the last purchase by Thailand was of CN235 aircraft in 2014 for use by the country’s police, while the aircraft offered during the recent meeting was the C212400, a rainmaker.
Besides discussing efforts to boost the two countries’ trade figure, Retno said that maritime cooperation and combating transnational organized crime were also key topics during the meeting.
She said that the two countries agreed on the need to expedite their maritime consultations following last year’s meeting in Bangkok to discuss borders and illegal fishing, and had planned to get back to the issue again sooner.
“In February or March, we hope to convene to negotiate again,” she said.
The last issue in the spotlight, Retno added, was cooperation on combating extremism, terrorism, radicalism, drug trafficking, human trafficking and wildlife trafficking.
Retno said that the two founding members of ASEAN had also agreed to support each other’s bids to join the UN Security Council, Thailand for 2017-2018 and Indonesia for 2019-2020.
Indonesia had also invited the Thai monarch to attend the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Jakarta in March as a supervisor.