The Jakarta Post
Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi and Panama Vice President Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado have agreed to build a stronger bilateral relationship between the two countries.
They reached the agreement during a bilateral meeting held on the sidelines of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation's (FEALAC) seventh foreign ministers' meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Friday, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday as quoted by Antara.
During the meeting, Minister Retno and Vice President Isabel de Saint Malo identified a number of areas of bilateral cooperation to be explored further to increase relations between the two countries.
The Panama vice president highlighted the importance of building connectivity in their efforts to strengthen bilateral cooperation. She said Panama were holding a High Level Panel on Connectivity in April 2016 and it was expected that Indonesia would support the meeting to build connectivity between the two countries.
Meanwhile, Minister Retno expressed her optimism regarding ongoing efforts to improve relations between the two countries. She also identified four fields of cooperation that could hopefully promote bilateral relations between Indonesia and Panama. These were the organizing of an RI-Panama bilateral consultation forum, the establishment of maritime cooperation between the two countries and the formation of a mandatory consular notification scheme. Indonesia also requested that Panama facilitate more people-to-people contact by reciprocally providing a visa-on-arrival facility for Indonesians travelling to Panama.
Minister Retno said the Foreign Ministry's aim to push forward the establishment of an RI-Panama mandatory consular notification was to guarantee protection for Indonesian citizens and sailors in the Latin American country. Based on the ministry's data, more than 5,000 Indonesians are currently working on boats in Panama, she said.
During the bilateral meeting, the Panama vice president offered the Indonesian government the use of Panama as a port for Indonesian products to reach markets in Central and South America, via the Panama Canal.
Since the opening of RI-Panama diplomatic relations in 1979, the two countries have signed off on two agreements; a visa exemption policy for diplomatic and official passport holders, which is currently in the ratification process, and a memorandum of understanding on the establishment of an RI-Panama bilateral consultation forum.
The bilateral trade between RI and Panama amounted to US$149 million in 2014 with a surplus of $69.6 million for Indonesia. (ebf)(++++)