Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi meeting with her Laotian counterpart, Saleumzay Kommasith, at the Pancasila Building in the Foreign Ministry compound in Jakarta on Thursday (27/07). (JG Photo/Sheany)

Indonesia, Laos Celebrate 60 Years of Bilateral Relations

BY :SHEANY

JULY 27, 2017

Jakarta. Indonesia and Laos have agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in several areas, including combating transnational crime and enhancing partnerships in trade, investment and tourism.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and her Laotian counterpart Saleumzay Kommasith led the fifth meeting of the Indonesia-Laos Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) in Jakarta on Thursday (27/07).

"Bilateral relations between our two countries have been excellent since the beginning [...] The only thing we need to do more in terms of bilateral cooperation is [strengthening partnerships] in economics, trade and tourism," Kommasith told reporters during a press conference.

Indonesia and Laos are celebrating the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between them this year. Thursday's meeting marked the launch of a series of activities organized to commemorate the occasion, including photo exhibitions, seminars, trade and tourism fairs and film festivals.

Retno said she and Kommasith discussed ways to strengthen cooperation to prevent and combat organized crime and enhance trade, investment and tourism partnerships.

"Increasing trade and investment interaction can be done when our business communities understand better the economic potential of both countries," Retno said. She added that there will be more exchanges on the business front to tap opportunities.

Total trade between Indonesia and Laos amounted to around $10 million last year.

Kommasith is also set to meet Vice President Jusuf Kalla and visit the offices of fertilizer producer Pupuk Kujang in Cikampek, West Java, to discuss partnership opportunities with the company's president director.

Pupuk Kujang annually requires around 70,000 tons of potassium – one of the basic ingredients of fertilizer. The company has been importing the chemical from Canada and Russia, but is seeking to cut costs by 30 percent by importing it from Laos instead.

Indonesia and Laos also agreed to increase cooperation in agriculture, which includes improving production capacity, stock and storage management as well as promoting industrialization of agriculture and commodities in both countries.

The Laotian government will also support Indonesia's campaign to become a nonpermanent member of the United Nations Security Council for 2019-2020.

The two nations also plan to expand cultural exchanges and increase bilateral tourism.

Retno and Kommasith will also attend the ministerial meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Manila next week.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the regional bloc.

Kommasith said they also discussed during Thursday's meeting ways Asean should work together to further enhance not only unity and centrality, but also promote economic cooperation that will benefit citizens, not only member states.

Retno emphasized that Indonesia and Laos are both committed to strengthening the Asean community and to promoting the bloc's goal of maintaining peace, security and stability on a regional and global level.

The Indonesian foreign minister said earlier this month that the 10-member bloc needs stronger efforts to address geopolitical rivalry, transnational crime and social inequality.

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