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Indonesia Eyes Further Cooperation with Laos

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Hydropower, tourism, potassium, and medical treatment are among the sectors Indonesia has its eye on for prospective cooperation with Laos, based on the Lao PDR’s abundance of natural resources and the skilled labour on offer in Indonesia.

Indonesian Ambassador to Laos, Irmawan Emir Wisnandar made the suggestion whilst talking to Vientiane Times yesterday during media coverage of a flag raising ceremony at the embassy in Vientiane to mark 71 years of the Republic of Indonesia.

“It is time for Indonesia to come here to Laos for doing business to develop the sectors in Laos,” he said, noting that Laos is the main producer of potassium in the region.

Indonesia is a country with a population of more than 250 million, the biggest in ASEAN. Currently there are about 250 Indonesians living in Laos for their jobs in the mining and tourism industries.

Ambassador Irmawan referred to the Indonesians as skilled labourers and experts, with some of them working for hospitality businesses, hotels and restaurants. He predicted the numbers of skilled Indonesians will increase following the ASEAN Community’s policy on the free flow of labour within the region.

Laos and Indonesia established diplomatic relations in August 1957 however despite their friendly relations the value of bilateral trade between the two countries is still small.

According to Trading Economics, which referred to Statistics Indonesia, exports to Laos by Indonesia decreased to US$4.5 million in 2014 from US$5.8 million in 2013. Exports to Laos in Indonesia averaged US$3.6 million from 1993 until 2014, reaching an all time high of US$23.8 million in 2012 and a record low of US$300,000 in 1993. Exports to Indonesia from Laos totaled US$51.3 million in 2014.

The ambassador referred to Indonesia-Laos relations, which have passed more than 50 years, noting there are many things that can be done regarding bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

“There are spaces for bilateral space. We have space to improve that through people-to-people and business-to-business contacts,” he said.

Mentioning the past when Laos was not a member ofASEAN, the ambassador said as one of the six founders ofASEAN, Indonesia was active to invite Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam to join the regional association in order to secure peace in the region after the end of the Indochina War.

Playing a significant role in order to maintain the centrality, cohesion, solidarity and unity of ASEAN has been the view and remains the vision of Indonesia, seeking to ensureASEAN is a strong regional organisation, according to Ambassador Irmawan.

He praised the Lao chairmanship ofASEAN, saying it has shown Laos has been capable as chairman of ASEAN 2016, as the 49th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and related meetings passed with very successful outcomes. The ambassador said they were very open venues for discussion, open for any recommendations given by allASEAN members.

“That is why at the end, the joint communiqué of the AMM could be done right on time,” Ambassador Irmanwan said.

“We are happy to see that because now everyone is focusing on and looking at Laos concerning international global affairs. Laos has proven they are able to chair ASEAN 2016,” he added.

Source: Vientiane Times