SA, Indonesia look to increase trade

17 October 2012

South Africa and Indonesia have agreed to step up their interactions in order to increase trade between the two countries, following the second meeting of the two countries’ Joint Trade Committee in Jakarta, Indonesia on Tuesday.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, who co-chaired the meeting with his Indonesian counterpart Gita Wirjawan, said afterwards that it was important for emerging economies to seek each other.

“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,” Davies said in a statement issued by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Davies added that South Africa was committed to strengthening regional integration across different regional economic communities.

SA an Africa ‘gateway, not gate keeper’

He said South Africa was a potential gateway for investment in the African continent, while adding: “We make a distinction between being gate keepers and gateway. We do not try to say that any other player has got to relate to other countries on the African continent through [South Africa]. The African continent is a continent of growth.”

According to the DTI, the main issues discussed in Tuesday’s meeting were market access and import regulation. “The South Africa side raised concerns relating to the designation of ports of entry for imports of fresh produce agricultural products, and the introduction of an import licensing regime for imports of horticultural products,” the deparment said.

The meeting also discussed sectoral cooperation, including trade promotion and capacity building for small businesses, “with particular interest in jewellery design and special economic zones”.

New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnerships

Indonesia proposed cooperation under the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnerships (NAASP) framework. “Under this framework, Indonesia will work together with South Africa in order to assist other countries in the African region as a form of attention and solidarity,” the DTI said.

Indonesia is the largest economy in South-east Asia, with gross domestic product (GDP) of around US$1-trillion.

According to the DTI, trade between South Africa and Indonesia grew between 2007 and 2011, with SA ranking 23rd as a destination for Indonesian exports, and Indonesia ranking 26th for imports from SA.

South Africa’s exports to Indonesia “mainly consist of raw materials, and there is a need to diversify them to include value-added products,” the DTI said.

SAinfo reporter