Indonesia and India agreed to strengthen strategic partnerships across various key areas, including defense, security, economy and maritime at the 5th Indonesia-India joint commission meeting in Jakarta on Friday (05/01).
“We discussed ways to broaden our partnerships, including by expediting finalization of our defense cooperation agreements,” Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi said in a joint press statement.
She said Indonesia and India also agreed to strengthen maritime cooperation to fight piracy and illegal fishing.
The two countries will also work together to counter terrorism through deradicalization programs and by developing a legal framework to combat transnational organized crimes, including cyber attacks.
India’s foreign affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, said the two countries is “in a unique position to develop synergetic relationship to harness potentials [in the] Indo-Pacific region.”
The two countries also agreed to work bilaterally and with other partners to “turn challenges facing the region into opportunities.”
Swaraj said the two countries are united in opposing “any selective approaches in dealing with terrorism, and urged countries to stop sponsoring terrorism and refrain from encouraging the use of their respective territories to establish ‘terrorist safe havens.'”
Indonesia and India also agreed to speed up negotiations on exclusive economic zones and intensify cooperation to promote trade facilitations and to explore other trade potentials through greater market access.
They will also endeavor to improve investment facilities in many sectors, including pharmacy and mining.
Bilateral trade between India and Indonesia was worth nearly $15 billion between January and October 2017, with Indonesia’s surplus at $8.3 billion.
Friday’s meeting also saw both countries agreeing to address India’s high trade deficit, not through restricting trade but rather by increasing it to the tune of $50 billion in 2025.
India is Indonesia’s top export market for palm oil and the second biggest importer of Indonesian coal.
“We agreed to create a balanced and sustainable trade by providing greater market access in both goods and services,” Swaraj said.
Swaraj’s visit to Indonesia is part of a whirlwind tour that also traverses Thailand and Singapore as part of India’s new “Act East” policy.
The policy seeks to improve India’s relations with countries in the Indo-Pacific region – members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island countries.
India wants to bolster partnerships with these countries in economy, security, politics, counterterrorism and defense.
“For India, relations with Asean is a key priority. It is at the core of our Act East Policy,” Swaraj said.
On Saturday, Retno and Swaraj will inaugurate the Asean-India Think-Tanks Forum (AINTT), which brings key thinkers to analyze pressing challenges in the region.
Retno said any attempts to improve peace, stability and prosperity in the region will require “strengthening the regional architecture” — from dialogue to proactive engagement in regional forums such as the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA).
Indonesia and India also agreed to expand aviation links, and will soon start direct flights between the two countries.
Swaraj also said that India will continue to help Indonesia develop the skills of its workers through short-term training programs and scholarships.
The two countries will also strengthen cooperation in education, information and communication technology and healthcare, Swaraj said.