The Jakarta Post
Despite the ongoing communal tensions in Myanmar, both Indonesia and Myanmar have reiterated their bilateral commitment to boost efforts in achieving the target of US$1 billion in trade volume by 2016.
'We are able to review the state of our economic relations and trade, especially our efforts to achieve $1 billion trade value by 2016, as well as our promotion of investment and progress in capacity building,' Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told media after the third meeting of the joint commission for bilateral cooperation between the two countries on Wednesday.
The meeting serves as an important follow up after the recent state visit of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to Naypyitaw, the capital of Myanmar on April 23-24.
As of last year, Indonesia and Myanmar's bilateral trade had reached $465 million, increasing 7.98 percent from $430.7 million in 2011. Last year, Indonesia recorded cumulative investment values worth $241.5 million, boosted by the expansion of Indonesian businesses in Myanmar.
'Within three years, we are fully committed to achieve the $1 billion trade volume target,' said Marty.
The enhancement of cooperation includes various sectors, such as agriculture, energy, technology, preventing and combating transnational organized crime, capacity building partnerships, investment and bilateral trade for both countries' mutual benefit.
Marty praised Myanmar's positive development, which was both transformative and fundamental, over the past year.
'Of course, every development leaves challenges, including community relations and reconciliation issues, as we have gone through in the past. I have expressed my strong support to Myanmar in overcoming those challenges,' emphasized Marty.
Myanmar Foreign Affairs Minister Wunna Maung Lwin said: 'Among others, we also discussed recent development with respect to the reform and national reconciliation process, including Myanmar's recent approach to prevent the recurrence of communal violence, as well as to achieve peaceful solutions.'
Throughout the past years, Indonesia has continuously displayed its commitment to providing humanitarian assistance through the works of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) and Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT Care for Humanity).
'Around three weeks ago, we handed over $1 million in financial assistance to build three schools equipped with multipurpose halls,' Indonesian Ambassador to Myanmar Sebastianus Sumarsono said on the sidelines of Wednesday's meeting. The schools are to be built in Rakhine state, a site of communal conflict.
Sebastianus acknowledged that education and settlement improvements were among the most urgent needs of conflict-prone Myanmar. He said that Indonesia had also provided $1 million in financial assistance for the construction of a three-story hospital equipped with a tsunami protection shelter.
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