Jakarta. Indonesia and Vietnam agreed on Tuesday (11/09) to strengthen ties as they seek to increase bilateral trade and step up cooperation to tackle illegal fishing in their waters.
"In the past three years, we have seen good progress in trade… We want to eventually reach $10 billion in bilateral trade by 2020," President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said, as quoted in a statement by the Cabinet Secretariat.
Trade between Indonesia and Vietnam amounted to $6.8 billion last year, with a surplus in Indonesia's favor.
During a meeting with Vietnamese President Trần Đại Quang in Hanoi, Jokowi raised the issue of trade barriers and expressed hope that his counterpart would remove them.
These include cars from Indonesia, which seeks to boost its automotive exports. Data compiled by the Indonesian Automotive Industry Association (Gaikindo) shows that Indonesia exported more than 137,000 cars as of July this year, 1,528 of which to Vietnam.
"However, there are still some barriers, such as inspection requirements. The president conveyed this during his meeting with the president of Vietnam … We hope to receive fair treatment and to reduce barriers that could affect our efforts to boost exports and overall bilateral trade," Retno said in a video seen by the Jakarta Globe.
Indonesia mainly exports sport utility vehicles to countries in Africa and the Middle East.
Japanese manufacturers, including Toyota and Suzuki, invested billions of dollars over the past five years to establish Indonesia as an export hub in the Asia-Pacific region.
During Jokowi's visit to Hanoi, Indonesia and Vietnam also signed a plan of action for the period 2019-23, which is the second program under their strategic partnership, established in 2013.
The president is also attending meetings of the World Economic Forum taking place in Hanoi this week.
"We also agreed to work together to tackle illegal fishing and we signed an agreement to boost cooperation in this area," Retno said.
The two leaders also agreed to step up negotiations on the demarcation of their respective exclusive economic zones, which overlap in the North Natuna Sea.
The meeting also saw the two leaders discuss progress in negotiations on a code of conduct in the South China Sea.
"I welcome the progress on the code of conduct negotiations. This will make a big contribution to ensure that the South China Sea will be a safe, peaceful and secure region," Jokowi said.
According to a statement issued by Trần Đại Quang's office, the two countries have also agreed to enhance military and security cooperation to address increasing traditional and nontraditional challenges in the region.