Economic Next | 25 January 2018
Sri Lanka eyes FTA with Indonesia, in continued engagement with ASEAN
Sri Lanka and Indonesia had agreed to study a free trade agreement during a state visit of President Joko Widodo to Colombo following talks with President Maithripala Sirisena, hot on the heels of singing an FTA with Singapore.
"The two Leaders agreed that a joint feasibility study be undertaken for a possible comprehensive bilateral free trade agreement," a joint statement said.
"The two Leaders recognised the importance of regional cooperation and integration in Asia."
President Widodo encouraged Sri Lanka to enhance its engagements with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN Regional Forum, a joint statement following a state visit on January 24 and 25 said.
"Recognising the vibrant maritime connectivity between Sri Lanka and Indonesia, the two Leaders discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interest pertaining to trade and investment, and reaffirmed their commitment to deepen and broaden economic collaboration," the statement said.
"They acknowledged the need to harness the untapped potential, which exists in the bilateral economic sphere and emphasised the need for the early establishment of the Joint Working Group on Trade and Investment."
The plan for an FTA with Indonesia comes after similar deal was signed with Singapore.
Like Sri Lanka, Indonesia was also colonized and Indianized by a vibrant Hindu-Bhuddist culture, with active seafaring thalacrassacracies, including the Srivijaya, Shailendra and Majapahit empires. Rajan Rajan Chola of India controlled of both Sri Lanka and Indonesia at the heights of his Empire.
Indonesian kingdoms have controlled the Malacca straits and their vessels roamed as far as Sri Lanka, Maldives and beyond.
Borobudor, a Mahayana Buddhist monument built by King Samaratungga in the 9th century gained worldwide acclaim after it was discovered during European rule and later restored.
Prambanan, a nearby Shaivite temple complex also shot to international fame after it was surveyed by Stamford Raffle during a short period of British occupation.
Unlike other ASEAN nations, Indonesia, like the Philippines suffer from poverty due to currency depreciation and inflation from a bad central bank and is a net exporter of labour to the Middle East and countries with sounder money including Singapore and Malaysia.
The full statement is reproduced below:
Joint Press Statement between Sri Lanka and Indonesia on the occasion of the State Visit of H.E. Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia to Sri Lanka
At the invitation of His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia, conducted a State Visit to Sri Lanka from 24 – 25 January 2018.
During the visit, President Widodo met with President Sirisena and had bilateral discussions. Recalling the establishment of formal diplomatic relations over 65 years ago, the two Leaders expressed satisfaction on the vibrant, strong bonds of friendship that exist between the two countries, and agreed to further consolidate and expand the relations.
Both leaders welcomed the exchange of recent high-level visits between Sri Lanka and Indonesia, and resolved to build up the momentum generated by these exchanges.
The two Presidents also witnessed the signing of three MoUs in the fields of Search and Rescue (SAR); Higher Education, Research and Technology; and, Cooperation against Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Chemical Precursors.
Recognising the vibrant maritime connectivity between Sri Lanka and Indonesia, the two Leaders discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interest pertaining to trade and investment, and reaffirmed their commitment to deepen and broaden economic collaboration. They acknowledged the need to harness the untapped potential, which exists in the bilateral economic sphere and emphasised the need for the early establishment of the Joint Working Group on Trade and Investment.
The two Leaders agreed that a joint feasibility study be undertaken for a possible comprehensive bilateral free trade agreement.
The two Leaders exchanged views on the progress and challenges in the bilateral cooperation and agreed to bolster cooperation for the mutual benefit. President Widodo conveyed Indonesia’s commitment to contribute towards Sri Lanka’s development, particularly in infrastructure and connectivity.
Welcoming the enhanced partnership between the two countries, the two Leaders directed the respective Foreign Ministries to finalize the arrangements of the third session of the Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation between Sri Lanka and Indonesia in Colombo at an early, mutually convenient date.
Acknowledging the increased number of tourists visiting each other’s country, and also recognising the historical and civilizational links between Sri Lanka and Indonesia, the two Presidents discussed ways and means to further increase cooperation in the tourism and aviation sectors.
Both leaders agreed to explore possibilities of capacity building in human resource development, agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries, disaster management and vocational training.
Recognising the significance of bilateral defence cooperation, the two Presidents exchanged views on training of military personnel, combating illicit drug trafficking and sharing of intelligence. They also underlined the importance of maintaining close bilateral interactions between maritime security agencies, National Anti-Narcotic agencies, and on Counter Terrorism.
The two Leaders recognised the importance of regional cooperation and integration in Asia. In this context, President Widodo encouraged Sri Lanka to enhance its engagements with ASEAN and the ASEAN Regional Forum.
President Joko Widodo also met with Prime Minister Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe and had extensive discussions on a range of issues including investment, trade, economic cooperation and science and technology.
The two leaders acknowledged the positive outcomes of the Business Forum co-organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN), which was well attended by leading investors and businesspersons from both countries and welcomed the signing of the MoU between the two Chambers.
The Indonesian business delegation comprising members of KADIN which accompanied President Widodo called on Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and discussed enhancing bilateral trade and investment.
President Joko Widodo thanked President Sirisena, Government and the people of Sri Lanka for the warm and generous hospitality extended to him and his delegation during the visit.