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Jakarta Post

Indonesia and Africa: Spurring an equal and mutually beneficial partnership

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    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta, Indonesia   /   Tue, April 10, 2018   /  08:27 am
Indonesia and Africa: Spurring an equal and mutually beneficial partnership . (./.)

Indonesia and Africa have enormous potential to become strong partners in trade and investment cooperation. In that context, the Indonesia-Africa Forum (IAF) from April 10-11, 2018, aims to facilitate the sharing of best practices and lessons learned, discuss opportunities and challenges, as well as chart the way forward to unlock the potential of economic relations.

The forum seeks to encourage innovative ideas and move beyond “business-as-usual” approaches. It offers 10 discussion panels on a wide range of issues including economic diplomacy, infrastructure development, trade and investment, manufacturing and digital economy and the strategic industry.

The topics discussed by each panel have been carefully selected, and have significant relevance to the needs of the African and Indonesian people. Through the panel on “manufacturing and digital economy”, for example, the forum recognizes the rapid development of the digital economy. Indonesia’s digital start-up industry is growing tremendously as Jakarta becomes one of the hottest start-up hubs in the world. At the same time, Africa has achieved the world’s fastest growth in internet use over the past decade, increasing by more than 20 percent annually. As e-commerce, big data, and financial technology transform ways of doing business, the discussion on digital economy will boost cooperation and promote partnerships between entrepreneurs.

South-south and Triangular Cooperation” was another topic selected for the panel discussion as Indonesia and Africa have been partnered in development cooperation for years. Africa is the third largest recipient of Indonesia’s capacity building programs after the Pacific island countries and Asia. Between 1999 and 2017, 1,102 participants from Africa participated in capacity building training provided by Indonesia. As a G20 member, Indonesia is also committed to supporting the G20 Africa Partnership and the achievement of Agenda 2063 through the Compact with Africa Initiative. It is therefore imperative to listen to our African partners to ensure the effectiveness of development cooperation.

Another relevant topic at the forum is “financing”, with speakers set to discuss existing and emerging financing mechanisms that can facilitate trade and investment between Indonesia and African countries, including the National Interests Account (NIA) which has been implemented since 2015 to support partner countries purchase Indonesian goods and services with low interest rates.

Each panel will present speakers from Indonesian and African governments and private sectors. Representing Indonesia, Cabinet members as well as CEOs of state-owned and private companies, representatives from the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (KADIN) and other business associations will deliver speeches for their respective panels. From Africa, several ministers from African countries and prominent leaders of African-based companies, such as Ethiopian Airlines, African Eximbank, Standard Chartered Africa, and Nigerian National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) will share their insights. African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry Mr. Albert M. Muchanga will share the stage with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in the first panel, which will discuss “Indonesian Economic Diplomacy to Africa”. The forum is expected to provide different perspectives from a wide variety of speakers.

Moreover, IAF will hold an exhibition of Indonesian-based products. No fewer than 40 state-owned, Small and Medium Enterprises, and private companies, as well as government agencies, will set up exhibition stands for African partners to access information and explore possible partnerships.

To enhance economic ties, the forum will also discuss ways to reduce tarif and non-tarif barriers. Indonesia has consistenly committed to renouncing protectionism in many multilateral fora. At the same time, African countries are possitively heading toward economic liberalization and integration, especially by launching the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in March 2018. To further these developments, the forum will hold Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) Preliminary Meetings that will seek out possibilities for establishing PTAs between Indonesia and African countries.

Instead of being just a talk shop, the forum is intended to deliver concrete and tangible results. Therefore, during IAF, delegates will witness the signing of 10 business deals, ranging from agreements on credit line facility to the purchase of PT Dirgantara Indonesia’s aircrafts by Senegalese and Ivorian buyers. The total value of these business deals will be US$586.4 million. Furthermore, another 12 business announcements will be made during the forum, including the announcement of the finalization of the opening of the Ethiopian Airlines flight route from Addis Ababa to Jakarta.

IAF aims to take full advantage of the dynamic global economy, in which Indonesia and Africa are among the significant engines for growth. Throughout the forum, Indonesia will seek to promote a strong and true partnership with Africa based on the principles of mutual benefit and mutual trust.

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