Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hold a bilateral meeting on Friday to broaden relations between Asia’s two largest democracies.
The two leaders are expected to discuss regional issues, according to presidential spokesman for foreign affairs Teuku Faizasyah.
“The visit is expected to boost relations between Indonesia and India, as well as to realize various cooperation schemes under the [current] strategic partnership,” Teuku said in a press statement released on Thursday.
He was referring to a strategic partnership inked by the two countries in 2005, aiming to make Jakarta–Delhi one of the most thriving bilateral relationships in the region.
Singh will arrive in Jakarta on Thursday night in his first official visit to Indonesia in a bilateral context. He visited Bali in 2011 to attend the East Asia Summit and then Jakarta in 2005 for the Asia-Africa Conference.
New Delhi wants to develop its relations with Southeast Asia with its “Look East” policy, in which Indonesia is a considered a very important country, Indian Ambassador to Indonesia Gurjit Singh said previously.
“So there are a lot of things in common we can look at, both in terms of strategic location and our economic growth,” he added.
The policy, adopted by India in 1991, seeks to establish closer ties with East Asian economies.
Prime Minister Singh on Thursday attended the 11th India-ASEAN Summit and eight East Asia Summit at Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam.
“Our engagement with ASEAN and its member countries is the cornerstone of our ‘Look East’ policy and has evolved into a strong, comprehensive and multi-faceted partnership in recent years,” the Prime Minister said in his departure statement as quoted by The Times of India on Thursday.
The ambassador confirmed that Singh’s visit would not only consolidate and expand strategic relations between the two countries, but also bilateral trade.
Prime Minister Singh, who will be accompanied by a number of ministers in his delegation, namely External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid as well as Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, is scheduled to attend a number of events, including the India-Indonesia CEOs Forum, which will be held on Oct. 10–11.
The forum will host business leaders from both countries, including Venu Srinivasan from TVS Motor Company Limited, Indo Rama Synthetics managing director OP Lohia and Tata International Ltd. chairman B. Muthuraman.
Bilateral trade between the two countries will be the focus in the forum. Indonesia-India trade reached an estimated US$20 billion in 2012.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) from Indian firms totaled $78.1 million across 58 projects last year, while it amounted to $57.1 million in 59 projects from January to June this year.
Both countries have set the target of $25 billion in bilateral trade by 2015. “We are positive that the target of $25 billion by 2015 will be achieved,” said ambassador Singh.
The Indian Embassy lists infrastructure, power, textiles, steel, automotives, resource-mining, banking and manufacturing as attractive investments for Indian companies. Another important issue for the two countries is free trade.
Ambassador Singh believes India is very “keen” to have a free trade agreement (FTA) on services and investment between ASEAN and India.
“An FTA on goods between India and ASEAN was signed two to three years ago and we have seen positive expansion.” (asw)