Indonesia: Russia, Indonesia to boost economic cooperation

Indonesia and Russia expect to increase bilateral economic activities in the upcoming years following the 60th anniversary of their diplomatic ties.

Russian Ambassador to Indonesia Alexander Ivanov said Friday that the trade volume between both countries was projected to exceed US$1.8 billion this year.

“This is quite awesome already. We hope that within the next few years our bilateral trade will reach $5 billion to $7 billion,” Ivanov said after signing commemorative cover stamps with Indonesian acting post and telecommunications director general Muhammad Budi Setiawan in Jakarta.

The ceremony was part of various activities to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries, which took place on Feb. 3 this year.

Earlier last month, both countries, represented by Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov, used the anniversary momentum to step up their bilateral cooperation.

“More and more Russian businessmen come to Indonesia because they consider Indonesia a huge, growing market, one of the emerging markets in the world,” Ivanov said.

He said Russia had included high-technology products in its exports as part of its export diversification.

Recently, the Indonesian Air Force received three more Russian made Sukhoi Su-27/30 jet fighters taking its inventory to a total of 10 Sukhoi jet fighters.

Indonesian Ambassador to Russia Hamid Awaluddin, who was present at the ceremony, shared a similar view to Ivanov, saying Indonesia expected an increase in trade as well as investment activities with Russia in the near future. Hamid cited Russia’s plan to build a seaweed processing plant in Bantaeng regent, South Sulawesi, as an example.

Russia, Hamid continued, was also interested in investing in the mining sector, especially coal and nickel.

“Russia has sent geologists to Central Sulawesi to analyze nickel reserves there,” he said, adding that another team of experts also carried out a survey in Kalimantan to seek potential coal mine sites.

“Lack of information has been one barrier for Russians to invest here. They don’t know much about the situation on the field. But, it’s better now,” he said.

Hamid said his team had conducted regular market research at various places in Russia, where Indonesian products are sold, to improve the quality of the country’s export products.

“We gather information about complaints from sellers of our products and convey the results of the research to our businessmen,” he said.

Indonesia’s current main export commodities to Russia include palm oil, cocoa, tea, vanilla and furniture, Hamid explained.

Hamid pointed out that there had been demand from Russia’s Muslim community for Indonesian garments and packaged halal (allowed by Islamic teaching) food. Currently, Russia has a Muslim community consisting of 24 million people.

“They consider the designs of our Muslim attire as more varied. They are also interested in our halal food because the certification is issued by only one body,” he said. Data at the Trade Ministry shows that the value of Indonesia’s exports to Russia in the first half of this year reached $242 million, while the import value was $540.3 million, causing a $298 million deficit.

Last year, the total bilateral Indonesia-Russia trade volume amounted to $774 million with exports reaching $316 million, resulting in a deficit of $142 million. (lnd)