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Indonesia, Vietnam to boost
cooperation on food security

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and visiting Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung agreed on Wednesday to boost cooperation on food security with an aim to make the two countries the main suppliers of rice and fish in the region.

The two leaders admitted that relations between the two countries are strong in all sectors and they are intending to boost the volume of trade from last year’s figure of US$3.3 billion to $5 billion by 2015.

“We are going to boost the trade volume. We agree to increase [trade volume] to $5 billion before the year 2015,” President Yudhoyono told a joint press conference after the bilateral meeting at the Merdeka Palace on Wednesday.

Yudhoyono underlined the two leaders’ talks, particularly on the issues of energy and food security in boosting the production of rice and fish, as well as combating illegal fishing.

“We agree to boost a concrete cooperation on food for the benefit of Indonesia and Vietnam, as well as the wider ASEAN region,” he said.

“In terms of rice, we have agreed to set up a framework on rice trading. Both Indonesia and Vietnam will boost rice production so that our two countries can supply rice to other ASEAN countries,” he said.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Hatta Rajasa, will leave for Vietnam to follow up on the agreement. “We will work to our countries’ respective advantages, in which Vietnam is strong in rice production, and Indonesia with fishing. We will package the two commodities in food cooperation,” he said.

Hatta said that with food cooperation, Indonesia and Vietnam will become pillars for ASEAN to supply food, mainly rice and fish. He said that the government will determine the zones in Indonesian waters where Vietnam’s sailors will be permitted to fish in the future. “We will also formulate cooperation to increase rice production. But it is not merely about import issues,” he said.

Indonesia has imported rice from Vietnam and Thailand over the last two years. President Yudhoyono added that he and Prime Minister Nguyen had agreed to strengthen cooperation in politics, law and security.

The two countries plan to cooperate on combating transnational crimes; promote exchange visits among military officers; and conduct joint marine patrols.

Prime Minister Nguyen said that the two countries’ respective trade figures had been evenly balanced recently, adding that the two will jointly conduct trade promotion. “We agree to develop deeper ties between our two countries, which will contribute to peace and stability in the region,” he said.

Meanwhile, President Yudhoyono also received a courtesy call at the presidential office on Wednesday by the newly appointed deputy prime minister of Singapore, Teo Chee Hean, who is also coordinating minister for national security.

The presidential spokesman for international affairs, Teuku Faizasyah, said that the two discussed several issues, including security and the economy.

“Also at the meeting, President Yudhoyono informed Deputy Prime Minister Teo and his entourage of Indonesia’s agreements with the Vietnamese Prime Minister and new Thai Prime Minister Yingluck [Shinawatra],” he said.

Teuku said that the President encouraged investors from Singapore to participate in the so-called MP3EI (Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Growth) program, particularly in Sumatra.

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