Indonesia and Ecuador have held their first bilateral trade forum as part of efforts by Southeast Asia’s biggest economy to boost trade and investment with nontraditional partners.
The inaugural meeting of the Indonesia-Ecuador Working Group on Trade and Investment took place in Quito on Dec. 19, with the Indonesian delegation led by Ni Made Ayu Marthini, director for bilateral negotiations at the Ministry of Trade.
“This is a historic meeting: After 38 years of diplomatic relations with Ecuador, it’s the first time we hold a working group meeting,” Ayu said, as quoted in a statement received by the Jakarta Globe.
The two countries discussed strategic matters, including market access, priority investment sectors and customs during the meeting.
Indonesia also raised the issue of high tariffs and suggested the establishing a trade agreement. The two countries view the working group as an effective means to promote exports of Indonesian products by reducing existing trade barriers.
Ecuador is Indonesia’s fifth-largest trade partner in South America, with total trade worth of more than $180 million between January and October last year, representing a 62 percent increase from the same period in 2017.
Indonesia signed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement with Chile in December 2017, making it the first South American country to have such a deal with the Southeast Asian nation.
Indonesia and Peru agreed in May last year to enter a free-trade deal.
Indonesia’s economic diplomacy has been focused on increasing bilateral trade with nontraditional partners, especially in Africa and South America.
Indonesia and Ecuador do not trade oil and gas commodities with each other as the former mainly exports automobiles, purifying machines, paper products and natural rubber, while importing cocoa, tobacco, fishing products and laboratory reagents from the latter.
The trade ministry said the second meeting of the working group will take place in Indonesia later this year, when the two countries will continue discussions on the feasibility of agreements on trade and investment.