“Indonesia has proposed to make IMT-GT a halal economic power, regionally and globally. There is a need for mapping and strategy development to improve the halal industry in the IMT-GT,” Minister of Trade Agus Suparmanto noted in a statement here on Thursday.

Suparmanto, representing Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto, conveyed the proposal while chairing the 26th ministerial-level meeting of IMT-GT held virtually from Bali on Thursday.

IMT-GT has managed to set up 4,054 export-oriented Halal SMEs, as of the end of October 2020, exceeding the earlier target of three thousand SMEs in 2021. Hence, the target has been increased to seven thousand SMEs by the end of 2021.

The number of halal experts, reaching 59,418, has also surpassed the predetermined target at 30 thousand experts.

“We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a huge crisis in the world. All countries are experiencing negative growth, and millions of people are at the risk of losing their jobs,” the minister noted.

Various government policies on economic recovery, particularly in Sumatra, have shown positive developments. The economy in Q3 of 2020 contracted by minus 2.22 percent as compared to the corresponding period of 2019. However, when compared to the previous quarter Q2 of 2020, the economy in Sumatra grew by 3.98 percent.

“To this end, the challenge presented by this pandemic must be taken up as an opportunity and a leap, so that the economy and health can run in balance,” he noted.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, grouped in IIMT-GT, remain committed to implementing various programs and activities in the 2017-2021 IMT-GT Blueprint.

This is aimed at achieving the Vision 2036, which is “Making the IMT-GT area an integrated, innovative, inclusive and sustainable area in 2036”.

Construction of the Pekanbaru-Dumai toll road route, inaugurated by President Joko Widodo last September, is one such example.

The toll road will support land connectivity in Dumai and concurrently promote the Dumai-Melaka sea connectivity by roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) ships.