Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, right, seen speaking with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bouritas in Jakarta on Monday. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Adimaja)

Indonesia Seeks Preferential Trade Deal With 'Old Friend' Morocco

BY :NUR YASMIN

OCTOBER 28, 2019

Jakarta. Indonesia and Morocco signed four agreements on Monday to strengthen bilateral cooperation on industry, maritime affairs and fisheries, counterterrorism and the exchange of financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terror financing.

Indonesia also sought to accelerate discussions on a preferential trade agreement during the meeting between Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and her Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita.

"In our negotiation, I conveyed that, firstly, it is important to immediately start discussions on a preferential trade agreement, which will remove trade barriers between the two countries. We expect the negotiations to start before the end of the year," Retno said after the meeting at her office in Jakarta.

She said Indonesia wants to boost trade with the North African country, which currently includes textiles, footwear, electronics, home appliances, rubber and furniture.

"I also mentioned Indonesia's willingness to supply palm oil, tea, coffee and any other commodities Morocco may need from us," she said.

Indonesia and Morocco established diplomatic relations 60 years ago.

"Morocco is Indonesia's old friend and a key partner in the North Africa region," Retno said.

Retno also invited Morocco to participate in the Halal Summit in Indonesia next year.

She said the halal industry covered a wide range of sectors, from food and medicine to cosmetics and banking, and that it has huge potential, having been valued at $2.1 trillion in 2017 and estimated to grow to $3 trillion by 2023.

Retno said Indonesian state-owned enterprises and private companies are ready to participate in infrastructure development projects in Morocco and form partnerships in the pharmaceutical industry.

On broader regional issues, Indonesia asked Morocco to promote dialogue through the United Nations to settle the territorial dispute in West Sahara.

Retno said Indonesia and Morocco could also play important roles to ensure peace in the Middle East.

"As two Muslim nations, we share a commitment to promote the nature of Islam, which is moderate, tolerant and graceful to all the living things," Retno said.

She was accompanied by newly appointed Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo, Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) head Kiagus Ahmad Badaruddin, and National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) head Suhardi Alius.

Moroccan Ambassador Ouadia Benabdellah, who also attended the meeting, said the two countries shared a common outlook on the promotion of a peaceful form of Islam, while they also continued to pursue stronger bilateral ties.

He added that Indonesia and Morocco are two important partners in the Islamic world, especially in countering radicalism and terrorism.

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