Jakarta Globe Sunday April 30, 2017
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed a series of agreements to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries at the Malacañang Palace in Manila on Friday (28/04), including expanding partnerships in counter-terrorism and intelligence gathering.
“President Duterte and I agreed to elevate cooperation in many areas: politics and security, economy, maritime and people-to-people contact,” Jokowi said in a joint press statement.
President Jokowi said he will continue to urge Indonesian companies to open up operations in the Philippines’ retail sector and take part in infrastructural development for power plants, highways and railroads.
“We will also expand a 2014 memorandum of understanding in counter-terrorism and intelligence gathering,” Jokowi said.
The two leaders also witnessed the signing of memoranda of understanding in agriculture, which will focus on technical assistance exchange and joint research.
On Sunday, Indonesia and the Philippines will also launch the opening of a new shipping line between Davao City in Southern Philippines and Bitung in North Sulawesi.
The Davao-Bitung shipping line is expected to increase trade between the two countries. A “Roll On Roll Off” (RORO) shuttle ship, which can carry up to 500 containers, will operate on the route.
According to Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, the shipping line not only strengthens bilateral cooperation between Indonesia and the Philippines, but also strengthens the wider Asean network.
Trade between Indonesia and the Philippine increased 32 percent last year from 2015 to more than $6 billion in total transactions.
“We also agreed to realize an Indonesian-Philippine joint working group in trade this year,” Jokowi said.
Concluding 20 years of back-and-forth negotiation, the Indonesian House of Representatives on Thursday ratified a maritime agreement demarcating Indonesian and Philippine exclusive economic zones. Relations between the two Southeast Asian countries is expected to improve with the ratification of the maritime borders.
President Jokowi will be in Manila from April 28 to April 30. This is a return visit for the president after Duterte visited Indonesia in September. Jokowi will also attend the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit on Saturday before leaving for another state visit to Hong Kong.
From: Jakarta Globe Sunday April 30, 2017