Indonesian minister: Bilateral ties to gain momentum with Erdoğan’s visit

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Indonesia in the first quarter of next year will invigorate the bilateral ties between the two countries, Indonesia‘s trade minister said yesterday.

“We will be honored by President Erdoğan’s visit to Indonesia in the first quarter of next year,” Enggartiasto Lukita told Anadolu Agency (AA). He noted that agreements and trade talks will be discussed during the president’s visit, adding that all current talks and agreements will be largely finalized.

Lukita expressed that the relations between the two countries dated back to the 12th century, recalling that they opened the first embassy in the 1950s.

He stated that the relations between the two countries were stronger in the past. “Basically, our bilateral trade was good, but now it is not as good as before,” he said, underlining that the trade volume between Turkey and Indonesia amounted to only $1 billion last year.

Lukita pointed to the close relations between Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Erdoğan, adding at the last month’s G20 meeting, both leaders agreed that bilateral trade should be increased to $10 billion as soon as possible and that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) should be signed at the earliest convenience.

The minister emphasized that the trade volume of $10 billion is expected to be achieved between 2020 and 2023, according to the talks between the leaders of the two countries.

“We believe that our bilateral trade will increase with the CEPA agreement. Business forums and one-on-one meetings focus on the private sectors that attract Turkish and Indonesian investors. We are working closely on how to increase our bilateral trading capacity,” he added.

Lukita also said that Turkish companies coming to Indonesia for investment were interested in the opportunities in the country. “This is not only because we have a population of 265 million, but Indonesia is also a central country,” Lukita said. “Indonesia is also interested in the Turkish private sector. Now it is our job as a government to provide support to maintain this spirit and willingness in bilateral trade and investments, thus enabling investors to implement their businesses and investments with this agreement. We need to find these solutions as soon as possible.”

The minister emphasized both countries‘ importance for each other. “Turkey imports palm oil and paper from us,” he further stressed. “We also need Turkey’s defense industry and technology. So, why should we purchase them from another country? The defense industry in Turkey has made excellent progress over the last decade. If I were the defense minister in my country, I would probably import defense industry products from Turkey.”

Praising the developed tourism sector in Turkey, Lukita said that Indonesian tourists visit historical and religious places in Turkey instead of visiting the seaside and beach areas and that Turkish Airlines did “a great job” to increase the number of tourists coming from Indonesia.

He also noted that Islamic finance became more and more popular around the world and in Indonesia, adding that both countries could work in these areas and carry out joint projects.