Indonesian Ambassador to Pakistan Adam Mulawarman Tugio said on Saturday that Indonesia fully supports Pakistan to achieve full dialogue partner status with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) , which will bring huge economic opportunities to Pakistan with $623 million potential trade market. of the region.
In an exclusive interview with APP, the Ambassador said there were two approaches to achieving this goal; the first is through an institutional process while the second was that the existing bilateral policy between Pakistan and the various ASEAN member countries should be addressed through a bilateral approach.
Regarding the institutional approach, he said, ASEAN and Pakistan have already adopted the action plan, adding that there were 11 important areas where Pakistan and ASEAN countries could work. together and one of the areas was trade and investment.
The second, he said, is related to the use of the bilateral approach, such as Pakistan can establish bilateral relations with Indonesia and with other ASEAN member countries and added that ‘By doing this, Pakistan could be accepted as a full dialogue partner and strengthen political, trade and economic ties with ASEAN member states.
The ambassador further said that Pakistan has vast potential to increase its exports to Indonesia, mainly textiles, garments, leather products, surgical instruments and fruits.
It is pertinent to mention here that the current bilateral trade between Indonesia and Pakistan is around 2.6 billion dollars; with a trade balance strongly in favor of Indonesia.
Responding to the question regarding the trade imbalance between the two countries, the Ambassador said that the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between the two countries has improved Pakistan’s exports to Indonesia while in the future, By signing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the trade of both sides can be further improved.
Responding to a question about Indonesian investments in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Ambassador said that two Indonesian companies are already investing in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) of Faisalabad (Allama Iqbal Industrial City) and Thatta, Sindh Dhabeji Special Economic Zone.
He said the CPEC project will be a game-changer for the entire region through connectivity with Central Asia and Western China. In addition, Indonesia could also supply coal to power projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and the large-scale national real estate and manufacturing sector.
He further said that Pakistan and Indonesia have many opportunities for cooperation in tourism as the two sides can introduce new dimensions in promoting mutual tourism. The Ambassador said Indonesia has provided 500 scholarships for Pakistani students to study at top Indonesian universities.
Speaking of culture, he said there is considerable similarity between the food and culture of the two countries. Indonesia and Pakistan already have an appropriate mechanism for political coordination, economic and defense cooperation and events on social and cultural affairs, he added.
In response to the question on the role of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Ambassador said that the role of the OIC is important, adding that the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) had declared the March 15 International Day Against Islamophobia on a resolution presented by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
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The Ambassador also praised the role of the Pakistani government in organizing an OIC special session on Afghanistan and then in raising a voice against Islamophobia at the UNGA.
On the Kashmir issue, he observed that there is no military solution and that Pakistan and India should resolve this issue through dialogue to find a solution acceptable to both countries.
He further said that the OIC is a dynamic forum for resolving various issues faced by Muslim countries. It is making considerable efforts to reform and improve the economic and social conditions of the Member States. He said that halal food has huge potential from a financial point of view, but if member states do not focus on it, the OIC market could be exploited by non-OIC countries.
Commenting on the economic and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, he said that Indonesia, with the collaboration of OIC members, has been providing humanitarian assistance to help our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan. In addition, Indonesia offers scholarships to Afghan students for higher studies in Indonesian universities, he explained.
The ambassador also said that Indonesia has now opened up to tourism and there is no quarantine period for fully vaccinated visitors. Moreover, the Indonesian government has already received agreements from relevant authorities in Pakistan to launch direct flights from Pakistan to Indonesia, which would further promote people-to-people contacts, tourism and business opportunities in both countries.