President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo shakes hands with Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou on Monday (16/10). (Photo courtesy of the Cabinet Secretariat)

Indonesia, Niger to Reduce Trade Barriers


OCTOBER 16, 2017

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Niger's President Mahamadou Issoufou met in Jakarta on Monday (16/10) to take steps to decrease tariff and non-tariff barriers and improve bilateral trade.

Jokowi and Issoufou discussed efforts to increase cooperation in economy, which also includes strengthening partnerships in strategic industries, infrastructure, energy and human resources.

"As [we are] two Muslim-majority countries, President Issofou's visit is important in our collective effort to promote tolerant and moderate Islam," Jokowi said, as quoted in a statement released by the Cabinet Secretariat.

Jokowi added that similarities shared by Indonesia and Niger as developing countries with democratic governments should offer a foundation for stronger relations.

Niger is a landlocked country in Western Africa, with a population of around 21 million.

This is the first visit of Niger's president since the establishment of diplomatic ties with Indonesia in 2011.

The presidents signed two memoranda of understanding (MoUs), on visa-free access for diplomats and the formation of a joint commission for bilateral cooperation (JCBC).

As Niger is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), Jokowi requested its support in Indonesia's ongoing negotiations with the organization for a preferential trade agreement, as it seeks to boost trade with the 15-member regional union.

Indonesia also offered technical cooperation across various fields, including agriculture, fisheries, education, as well as health and family planning.

Spurring economic ties with Africa is one of Indonesia's foreign policy priorities under Jokowi's administration. In 2018, the country is going to host the Indonesia-Africa Forum and Maritime Dialogue, which will focus on opportunities in economic cooperation and ways to combat illegal activities at sea.

Engagement with African countries includes exchanges of high-level visits. Earlier this year, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi visited Nigeria and South Africa.