Pretoria: South Africa and Indonesia have agreed to enhance bilateral relations and will conduct a joint study to explore trade opportunities, says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
At the end of the second session of the two countries’ Joint Trade Committee (JTC) in Jakarta, co-chaired by Davies and his Indonesian counterpart Gita Wirjawan, the two leaders on Tuesday said trade relations enhancement would provide mutual benefit for the economic development of both countries.
“It is through the strengthening of the relations between the emerging economies that we can actually realise the number of objectives which we are setting ourselves. These will enable us to develop our economies, create employment for our people, and raise their living standards,” said Davies.
The two countries agreed to conduct a joint study with the purpose of exploring trade opportunities. Davies said it was important for emerging economies to seek each other.
South Africa was committed to strengthening regional integration across the different economic communities, while the country was also a potential gateway for investors to the African continent.
“We make a distinction between being gatekeepers and [being a] gateway. We do not try to say that any other player has to relate to other countries on the African continent through us. The African continent is a continent of … growth,” said Davies.
Wirjawan, meanwhile, called on South Africa to contribute to the strengthening of economic resilience.
Market access and import regulation were the main issues discussed at the meeting, with South Africa raising concerns relating to the designation of ports of entry for imports of fresh produce and the introduction of an import licensing regime for imports of horticultural products.
The meeting also discussed sectoral cooperation such as trade promotion and capacity building for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), with particular interest in jewellery design and Special Economic Zones (SEZ).
Indonesia proposed cooperation under the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnerships (NAASP) framework. Under this cooperation, Indonesia will work together with South Africa in order to assist other countries in African as a form of solidarity.
Between 2007 and 2011, bilateral trade between South Africa and Indonesia experienced an upward trend.
South Africa’s top 10 products exported to Indonesia include chemical wood pulp, ferrous waste, iron ores, aluminium, phosphoric acid and mechanical appliances. South Africa’s exports to Indonesia mainly consist of raw materials and there is a need to diversify them to include value-added products.
South Africa ranks 23rd for Indonesia’s export products and 26th for Indonesia’s imports.