JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia and Japan have agreed on the removal of more trade barriers, Indonesia’s foreign minister said on Saturday, after the two countries concluded negotiations on protocols to improve their bilateral economic agreements.
Japan will allow greater access for Indonesian products including by removing tariffs on processed fishery items and the two countries will improve relations in the banking sector, Minister Retno Marsudi said in a statement.
Both sides are looking for the amended Indonesia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (IJEPA) to be implemented by the first quarter of 2024, though it still needs to be formally signed and ratified by their respective parliaments after legal checks, she added.
Retno’s statement came after Indonesian President Joko Widodo held a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of a Tokyo summit marking 50 years of ties between Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Indonesia’s trade ministry previously said Jakarta had asked Tokyo to eliminate tariffs on its canned tuna exports during the negotiations, which were intended to build on the IJEPA first signed in 2007.
Jokowi, as the Indonesian president is popularly known, in his meeting with Kishida also highlighted the importance of Jakarta and Tokyo’s agreement on critical minerals as Indonesia tries to position itself as an important player in the global electric vehicle (EV) battery supply chain, Retno said.
Japan has also provided Indonesia’s coastguard with a patrol vessel worth 9 billion yen ($63 million) to help Indonesia increase its maritime capacity, she said.
Earlier on Saturday, Japan and Malaysia signed a security assistance deal including a grant of 400 million yen to boost Malaysia’s maritime security, as Asian nations seek to counter an increasingly assertive China.
Jokowi and Kishida also discussed the conflict in Gaza and the Indonesian president reiterated his support for a permanent ceasefire and sustainable humanitarian aid.
($1 = 142.1500 yen)
(Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo; Editing by David Holmes)