Sun, 09 Jan 2011


New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) India and Indonesia aim to strengthen bilateral economic ties setting a $20 billion trade target for 2015 and to begin negotiations for a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who begins his India visit Jan 25, will be seeking greater Indian investments in rail and port construction, palm oil, food processing and other areas, a senior Indonesian diplomat said here Friday.

A 400-member trade delegation from Indonesia has timed its visit with that of Yudhoyono, Indonesian Ambassador Lt Gen (retd) Andi M. Ghalib said at a press meet.

Yudhoyono will be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade this year, 61 years after Indonesia's first president Sukarno was the chief guest at India's first R-Day celebrations in 1950.

Ghalib said that Indonesia and India surpassed the $10 billion target they had set for bilateral trade in 2010, up from $4 billion in 2005. Total trade last year touched $12 billion.

The new target of $20 billion is set for 2015. In years to come India will be the largest trading partner of Indonesia, the envoy said.

Fighting terrorism will also be high on the agenda during the bilateral talks with focus on eliminating terror funding. An extradition treaty is being worked out and a protocol to curb movement of contraband drugs is also on the anvil, Ghalib said.

Among the new areas to explore cooperation will be energy. A 1980 pact on nuclear energy lapsed as it could not be enforced. Both sides are presently working out measures to cooperate in this field, he added.

Highlighting the strong cultural interaction between the two countries, Ghalib said Indian films, particularly Hindi movies, are very popular in Indonesia.

Emphasising on tourism, the envoy pointed out that Indonesia offers visa-on-arrival facility to Indians although India does not have such an arrangement in place for Indonesians.

Yudhoyono's visit underscores the strategic relationship between the two countries that have had ancient ties, now revived in the contemporary context as leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Ghalib said.

'You are our forefathers,' he told media, recalling that all faiths in Indonesia - Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam - had come from India.

The Indonesians have kept alive the tradition of Ramayana and Mahabharata as part of the common cultural heritage.