Indonesia and Belarus held the sixth session of an intergovernmental joint commission in Jakarta on Tuesday (17/10), as officials of the two countries seek to identify prospective areas to enhance bilateral cooperation, focusing on issues such as trade and economic affairs. (JG Photo/Sheany)

Indonesia and Belarus Meet to Enhance Bilateral Cooperation

BY :SHEANY

OCTOBER 17, 2017

Jakarta. Indonesia and Belarus held the sixth session of an intergovernmental joint commission in Jakarta on Tuesday (17/10), as officials of the two countries seek to identify prospective areas to enhance bilateral cooperation, focusing on issues such as trade and economic affairs.

"This meeting reflects the strong commitment from both of us to find new and creative ways to bring our relations to a higher level," Muhammad Anshor, director general of America and Europe at the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in his opening remarks.

Anshor added that there is "ample room" to improve and intensify bilateral cooperation.

The session, which will focus on trade, economic, scientific and technical cooperation, will be followed by the Indonesia-Belarus Business Forum.

Belarusian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Dapkuinas said his delegation is focused on "achieving practical results" for the benefit of both countries.

The Belarusian delegation includes representatives from the country's Ministry of Agriculture and Food and Ministry of Industry, while the Indonesian delegation includes representatives from the Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Defense and the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM).

The two countries established diplomatic ties in June 1993, but Belarus only opened an embassy in Jakarta in 2011. It also has an honorary consul in Surabaya, East Java. Indonesia has yet to open a mission in Minsk, the Belarusian capital.

Bilateral trade between Indonesia and Belarus amounted to $235 million between 2013 and 2016, but during a meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla last year, Belarusian Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said this could eventually reach $1 billion.

Indonesians gained five-day visa-free entry to Belarus in February as part of efforts by that country's government to boost the tourism industry.

Indonesia, with its population of more than 260 million, serves as an important gateway for Belarus to the larger Southeast Asian market.

On the other hand, Belarus also serves as a potential gateway for Indonesia to expand its trade in Eastern Europe and Russia.

The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country imports more than 200 commodities, including natural rubber, optic fiber and furniture, from Indonesia. The former Soviet republic mainly exports fertilizers, petrochemicals and medical equipment to the archipelago.

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