Politics, Not Economics, Is At Play – Indonesia Wants More Trade With Namibia

Indonesia, with a GDP of over US$1.3 trillion (N$15 trillion), believes it is inconceivable that its trade with Namibia is only worth N$37 million annually.

The Asian country says its political and diplomatic ties with Namibia are excellent, but this is not reflected in the trade volumes between the two nations.

Annual trade between the two countries currently stands at US$3.3 (N$37.2 million) with Namibia importing sardines, bath soap, hand-held tractors and wooden furniture while Indonesia imports fish oil, animal skins and distillate fuel.

Lasro Simbolon, the Indonesian Director for African Affairs, visited Namibia last week accompanied by a deputy director for economic affairs and a senior mines and energy official, among other Indonesian delegates.

The visit that included Aris Munandar (foreign affairs), Laode Sulaiman (mines and energy) and Gatot Sutrisno a delegate from CV Karya Hidup Sentosa, a hand-tractor maker, lasted from last week Wednesday until Sunday.

During the stopover, the Indonesian director and his delegation conversed with foreign affairs officials and also interacted with top officials from the NCCI.

“In the ministry of foreign affairs (in Indonesia) this visit is very important on our part,” declared Simbolon.

“The purpose is to push more and more concrete cooperation. Actually we have enjoyed an excellent and cordial bilateral cooperation,” he said.

“Ours is a relationship between two special friends, it’s very historic and it has a very g political attachment,” he said in the wide-ranging interview that took place in Windhoek.

“Already we have a number of mechanisms in place in terms of policy instruments to enhance this cooperation.”

“But we feel there is a need to push it more and more to transform these political attachments into concrete and fruitful relations in the interest of our people here in Namibia and Indonesia.”

Responding to a question regarding the fact Indonesia has a GDP of over US$1.3 trillion but its economic footprints are not present in Namibia, he responded, “… this is a question to both Indonesian authorities and Namibian authorities and I think as I said in terms of political bonds our relationship is excellent, there is g solidarity but economically we should do more.”

“I think Namibia and Indonesia should sit together to open the existing possibilities and I think more trade missions from Namibia should visit Indonesia – of course with the endorsement and facilitation by Namibian authorities,” further elaborated Simbolon.

He said the visit could see Namibia receive its share of Indonesian investments regarding the fact that about twenty Indonesian firms have already invested in soap and detergent making and in pharmaceuticals in Nigeria.

Already, Indonesian firms capitalising on their government’s business friendly trade policies have also invested heavily in numerous businesses in South Africa, in Mozambique, in Ethiopia and in Ghana among others.

Simbolon, whose government encourages Indonesian companies “to go international and to invest all over the world,” equally exhorted the government of Namibia “… .to be more proactive and approach their Indonesian counterparts to tell them to invest here.”

After the weeklong visit, Simbolon wants the two countries to blot out the existing bottlenecks and challenges prevailing in the form of tariffs and non-tariffs so that trade is enhanced “because the potential is there and I think our economies are complimentary in nature.”

One of the existing choke points regarding two-way trade, according to him regards the image of Africa with some quarter of Indonesian society still using old benchmarks to assess the image of Africa.

“The image of Africa is still very much influenced by the image of the past which is not a true representation of the Africa today. Africa has made a lot of progress in terms of stability and good governance and Africa today is rising and there are a lot of business opportunities, it is a golden continent,” Simbolon told New Era on Friday.

Apart from strengthening the existing solidarity between the two countries, Simbolon says this process is two-way “because we also learn from our partners like Namibia.”

Indonesia is renowned for high quality fabrics and it makes Batik, the shirts that assumed global prestige after the late South African leader Nelson Mandela wore them.

Indonesia is the largest producer of crude palm oil (CPO) and its derivates such as cooking oil, lotion, soap and it also produces paper and high-quality electronics

Source : New Era