Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi are set to meet on Wednesday (30/05) as part of the latter’s visit to Indonesia, where the two leaders will discuss a range of bilateral issues, including the economy, maritime and the Indo-Pacific concept.
"[They will discuss] issues relating to maritime, economic development … that will certainly be part of the dialogue, and also people to people, because that is a very strong pillar of India-Indonesia relations," India’s ambassador to Indonesia, Pradeep Kumar Rawat, said during a press conference in Jakarta on Monday.
Jokowi and Modi will also address defense, security, infrastructure and tourism during their meeting, he added.
Modi’s visit to Indonesia follows Jokowi’s visit to India in late January, when he attended the Asean-India Commemorative Summit and India’s Republic Day Parade.
Key Cooperation Areas
Indonesia and India will celebrate their 70th year of diplomatic relations in 2019, and seem set to strengthen ties from the foundations of their strategic partnership, which was established in 2005.
Despite launching negotiations for a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement in 2011, the two countries have yet to reach a conclusion.
According to Rawat, countries in the region, including India, have been more concerned with finalizing the regional comprehensive economic partnership, (RCEP), which is expected to be ready this year.
RCEP consists of all 10 Asean member states, and six of Asean’s FTA partners: Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
RCEP states represent almost half of the world’s population, 31.6 percent of global output and about 28.5 percent of global trade, with the partnership expected to support job creation and promote innovation, among other things.
However, the lack of bilateral economic agreements have not slowed down their trading relations.
Indonesia is India’s largest trading partner in Southeast Asia, with total bilateral trade valued at over $18 billion in 2017. India is Indonesia’s top export market for palm oil and the second biggest importer of Indonesian coal.
Rawat said that Indonesia-India trade relations are closely linked to its ties as close maritime neighbors.
"Certainly the maritime dimension of our engagement will grow. We are in global trade, and a large part of trade goes through these maritime routes," Rawat told reporters.
Furthermore, Indonesia and India have agreed to step up relations across various key areas in recent months, including in security and maritime, as a result of meetings held at the ministerial level, including that between Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Chief Security Minister Wiranto, with their respective Indian counterparts.
In 2017, Indonesia welcomed more than 480,000 tourists from India. This year, the Ministry of Tourism has set an ambitious target of attracting around 700,000 Indian travelers to the archipelago.
As part of an effort to reach this goal, national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia launched a direct flight from Mumbai, India, to Denpasar, Bali, on Apr. 23.
Rawat said Jokowi and Modi will also discuss the Indo-Pacific concept when they meet this week, a topic they covered during their last meeting and is part of both countries’ foreign policy priorities this year.
This foreign policy orientation has also been taken up by a number of other countries, including the United States, Australia and Japan.
According to Rawat, Indonesia and India share a similar views regarding the concept, especially given their commonalities and shared perspectives on values of democracy, transparency and rules-based systems.
Indonesia and India are members of East Asian Summit (EAS), which consists of 18 countries and which was established in 2005.