Jokowi to Attend ASEAN-GCC Summit in Saudi Next Month
Jakarta. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is scheduled to fly to Saudi Arabia next month to attend the ASEAN-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit, according to the Foreign Ministry spokesman Lalu Muhammad Iqbal.
The GCC is a political and economic alliance that brings together the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait. Riyadh will host the ASEAN-GCC Summit on Oct. 20.
“We can confirm Jokowi’s attendance at the [ASEAN-GCC] summit. [President Jokowi] are scheduled to become co-chairs in the upcoming summit together with the Saudi Prime Minister and Crown Prince [Mohammed bin Salman],” Lalu told a press briefing in Jakarta on Friday.
“[President Jokowi] will zero in on economic and trade [partnership],” Lalu said.
ASEAN-GCC’s first contact dates back to 1990 when the Gulf bloc expressed interest in establishing formal ties with its Southeast Asian counterpart. The two blocs held their first ministerial meeting in 2009. All individual GCC nations have also acceded to ASEAN’s non-aggression pact, namely the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC). In other words, all 6 GCC members have vowed to help promote peace in Southeast Asia.
Bilateral Meet with Saudi Crown Prince
During his Saudi trip, Jokowi will meet Mohammed bin Salman for some bilateral talks. Lalu, however, did not go into details on what would be on the agenda during the meeting.
“Both governments are still discussing the details of the bilateral talks,” Lalu told reporters.
Judging by past meetings with other world leaders, Jokowi has a habit of bringing up economic ties, among others. Jokowi also often tries to lure foreign investors to help Indonesia build the new capital city Nusantara from scratch.
Government data shows Indonesia and Saudi Arabia’s bilateral trade rose from $5.6 billion in 2021 to $7.5 billion the following year. Jakarta posted a trade deficit of $3.5 billion with Riyadh last year. Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia totaled $1.7 million throughout 2022.
It is also likely that Jokowi will talk about next year's hajj. Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population. This year, Indonesia sent 229,000 pilgrims to partake in the hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.