Indonesia is in the move to strengthen its economic diplomacy with Kenya as a key strategy to cement bilateral ties.
The South East Asian nation is now focusing on the economical aspect of its relationship noting that the political ties with Kenya are already solid.
Indonesian envoy to Kenya, Mohamad Hery Saripudin, disclosed this in an interview with Capital News.
“We regard political cooperation is like infrastructure. The concrete way to promote Indonesia -Kenya relations is through the economy,” he said.
“The diplomat singled out trade, investment, and tourism as the key areas where Indonesia is looking to explore to further boost its relations with Kenya,” he added.
Kenya’s main exports to Indonesia include tea, coffee, coffee substitutes, tobacco, vegetables, leather and metallic salts.
While commenting on the current state of the global economy, Ambassador Saripudin said that he is encouraged that the economy is slowly picking up following the global outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020 that dealt a blow to different sectors across the world.
“Although we were hit severely by the Covid-19 pandemic where physical mobility was restricted, and the cost for forwarding or sending goods to overseas countries increased, but our trade increased in the first year of COVID-19 by 40 per cent and 35 per cent in the second year,” he said.
The Indonesian ambassador said that once COVID-19 is eliminated, they are hopeful that the trade will go up.
To boost its trade with Kenya and the region, Ambassador Saripudin stated that his country is looking to diversify its exports from crude palm oil and explore other products.
“Right now, our traditional commodity marketed here is crude palm oil. Almost 60 per cent of the shares in the regional market come from Indonesia. We do not want to rely heavily on that product. We would like to diversify,” he said.
He singled out paper, food and beverage, and pharmaceutical products as some of the other products with relatively higher market share in the region.
To promote tourism, Ambassador Saripudin stated that, while his country is currently regulating visa issuance, its Embassy in Nairobi is fully committed to facilitating tourist movement from Kenya.
He went on to say that once COVID-19 is contained, they will look to reinstate the Visa on Arrival framework in the near future so that more Kenyans can visit Indonesia.
Ambassador Saripudin stated that he is optimistic that the tourism sector in Indonesia will bounce back from the global shutdown that was occasioned by the pandemic.
“Initially we had closed the international airports as a result of COVID-19, but now we have opened not only Jakarta but also in Bali and all the main tourist destinations,” he said.
Kenya and Indonesia have a long historical relationship that dates back to the inaugural Afro- Asian Conference in 1955 in Bandung, Indonesia.
In April 2018, Kenya participated in first-ever Asia – Africa Forum (IAF) in Bali, Indonesia.
Indonesia established its diplomatic mission in Nairobi in 1982. Kenya opened its Embassy in Jakarta earlier this year on March 18.