Indonesian Foreign Minister, Retno L.P. Marsudi, held a virtual bilateral meeting with the Colombian Foreign Minister Claudia Blum de Barberi on Wednesday (August 5th, 2020). The bilateral meeting is followed with the signing of two agreements, which is the first signing of agreements done virtually between the two countries.

“We discussed a number of issues to further strengthen bilateral cooperation, including the signing of visa waiver agreement for holders of ordinary passports, and the MoU on Political Consultation between the foreign ministries of the two countries” said the Indonesian Foreign Minister.

“I want to reiterate our gratitude for the cooperation between our countries on the return of Colombians from Asian countries in a humanitarian flight,” said Minister Blum. On May 2020, 366 Colombians were returned using humanitarian flight with Garuda Indonesia. Furthermore, Minister Blum also encourages health cooperation with the context of mitigating COVID-19 pandemic.

The virtual meeting was conducted on the verge of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, in September 15th of 2020. Colombia has been an important partner for Indonesia, as the sixth trading partner in the South American region in 2019, as well as the second largest investment partner from the region in the same year.

Both Foreign Ministers also agreed to strengthen trade and investment relations, especially in terms of economic recovery post COVID-19 pandemic. The two Ministers cherished the progress of the Joint Feasibility Studies for a future preferential trade agreement since November 2019. The total trade value between the two countries, which is still considered very low and has plenty of potentials to be increased, only reached USD 152.8 million in 2019 that shows a surplus for Indonesia of USD 127.2 million.

The visa exemption agreement signed today will further increase the number of tourists from both countries once the COVID-19 pandemic is over. Around 6.304 Colombians visited Indonesia in 2019, an increase of 15.7% from 2018.

The MoU on Political Consultations serves as a new mechanism for further strengthening the relations of the two countries, complementing the bilateral Joint Commission, which held its first meeting in Bogota, Colombia, in 2013. Both Ministers agreed that the Political Consultation and the Joint Commission could be held in 2020.

Indonesia and Colombia agreed to encourage cooperation through regional mechanism, such as ASEAN and Pacific Alliance. Indonesia requests the support of Colombia to become the associate member of the Pacific Alliance and Colombia requests the support of Indonesia for the accession into TAC ASEAN and to forge closer cooperation with ASEAN.

Both Foreign Ministers also agreed to mutually support on the cooperation of global issues, including peacebuilding. Colombia also supports Indonesia’s presidency of the United Nations Security Council for the month of August 2020, raising the theme of “Advancing Sustainable Peace”.

As world’s 1st and 4th producers of palm oil, the two countries underlined the importance of the sector in contributing to sustainable development and social welfare. Colombia will hold the 2nd International Workshop on Crops for Peace, after the successful 1st International Workshop held in Indonesia on November 2019, and the Oil Palm Workshop for Peace in 2018.

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