President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo urged South Africa to reduce trade barriers for Indonesian exports to the country, in a bilateral meeting with visiting South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday.
Zuma's visit is the first by a South African president in the last 12 years.
"We have agreed to soon discuss lowering tariff and non-tariff trade barriers for top-quality products and commodities," Jokowi said during a joint press conference with Zuma after the meeting, adding that he hoped that South Africa could help Indonesia to open new cooperation with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU).
Between January and October last year, two-way trade amounted to US$860 million in favor of Indonesia, a far cry from the 2012 figure of $2.35 billion.
Indonesia mostly exports motor vehicles, rubber, footwear, tires and paper, while South Africa’s major exports include chemicals, wood pulp, ferrous waste, iron ore, aluminum, fruit and mechanical appliances.
Jokowi promised to send related ministers and business people to South Africa to follow up on the results of Wednesday’s meeting.
Zuma, who underlined that Indonesia and South Africa had a strong foundation of bilateral friendship because Indonesia had played a key role in supporting the South Africans’ struggle for freedom in the past, said the two countries had agreed “to take our relationship to the next level”. (ipa)