The foreign ministers of Indonesia and Maldives agreed to strengthen bilateral relations and diversify cooperation across several sectors, including in tourism, fisheries and trade in a meeting on Wednesday (21/06) in Jakarta. (Photo courtesy of Foreign Affairs Ministry)

Indonesia, Maldives to Boost Bilateral Trade and Exchange Tourism Sector Expertise

BY :SHEANY

JUNE 21, 2017

Jakarta. The foreign ministers of Indonesia and Maldives agreed to strengthen bilateral relations and diversify cooperation across several sectors, including in tourism, fisheries and trade in a meeting on Wednesday (21/06) in Jakarta.

"As island nations, both Indonesia and Maldives share similar concerns in regards to the impacts of climate change. We discussed our commitments within the context of the Paris [climate accord], and explored potential for cooperation that both countries can develop together," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters.

Both countries are vulnerable to the impacts of future climate change, especially Maldives, a small tropical nation located in the Indian Ocean made up for more than 1,000 islands.

Nearly 1,400 Indonesians currently work in the South Asian nation, mostly in the tourism sector, Maldives's largest industry.

According to Retno, bilateral cooperation in developing mutual tourism will include shared expertise from Maldives to boost the industry in the Southeast Asian nation, which will look to attract as many as 20 million foreign tourists to its shore by 2019.

"In trade, there has been a positive trend from year to year. In 2016, we saw an increase from the year before [...] both countries are committed to increase trade cooperation," Retno said.

The hotel industry in Maldives, one of the most coveted holiday destinations in the world, can share important knowledge of the tourism sector to Indonesia. In efforts to boost economic cooperation in that industry, Retno said the government might supply hotels in the South Asian nation with Indonesian-made furniture.

Over the past five years, trade between the countries has increased 12 percent annually on average. In 2016 alone, bilateral trade amounted to nearly $39 million.

In addition to increasing trade, both countries agreed to strengthen technical cooperation and know-how; Indonesia has provided technical training sessions on disaster management, good governance and television broadcasting to the South Asian nation for several years.

After his meeting with Retno, Maldives Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim will meet with Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti to discuss enhanced cooperation in developing fisheries in the South Asian country.

Qatar-Gulf Crisis

Maldives recently severed diplomatic relations with Qatar following the Gulf-Qatar diplomatic crisis, due to that government's "firm opposition to activities that encourage terrorism and activism."

Asim told Retno that although his country has cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries still continues unaffected.

Indeed, Qatar Airways still operates flights to and from Maldives.

During the meeting of foreign ministers, Asim also expressed his country’s desire for a peaceful dialogue to take place as soon as possible.

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