Boosting economic ties: Indonesia softens visa policy for Pakistanis

KARACHI: Indonesia has announced a new visa policy under which the Indonesian Consulate will issue visas to Pakistanis within couple of days if the documents are found in proper shape.

This was announced by Indonesian Consul General Hadi Santoso during the formal inauguration of Pakistan Indonesia Business Forum (PIBF) at Indonesian Consulate on Friday. He said that PIBF has been formed in order to promote cultural, education, tourism, science and technology besides strengthening bilateral trade ties between the two countries.

Hadi said that his government eyeing on promotion of tourism and trade and that’s why visa policy for Pakistanis has been softened. He said his consulate had issued 20% more visas as compared to last year.

“About 10% more visas would be issued as compared to last year,” he said, adding that his consulate had issued 1,967 visa the previous year. He said that under the policy, Indonesian Airlines, Garuda, is also considering to start its fleet from Pakistan.

He expressed dismay over the volume of bilateral trade between the two brotherly countries as it stands at just $2.23 billion against a potential of several billion dollars.

He advised the Pakistani businessmen to fully exploit Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) and export more products to Indonesia in order to bridge the gap between the two countries’ trade volume.

Hadi mentioned that Pakistani exporters could also exploit Indonesia’s big market of Halal meat, adding that under the plan of strengthening bilateral relations, the Karachi University has offered 10 scholarships to the Indonesian students while Indonesian government too has offered eight scholarships to Pakistani students.

While explaining the issue of ban on export of Pakistani rice to Indonesia, he said that there is trade of rice is going on between the governments.

He later on formally inaugurated the PIBF along with its president.

PIBF President Shamoon Zaki on the occasion said that Pakistan-Indonesia relationship is particularly special, founded on common mutual religious and cultural outlook. “Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country in terms of its population; whereas Pakistan is the world’s second largest Muslim country. Both countries have great potential to improve bilateral cooperation in multiple fields. Over the years, Pakistan and Indonesia’s bilateral trade has risen dramatically from around $1.1 billion in 2013, $2.204 billion in 2014 and total trade Jan to July 2015 stood at $1.246 billion. However, there can be a significant increase in trade as PIBF is exploring more products.”

He said Indonesia and Pakistan have great potential to improve bilateral cooperation in multiple fields and businessman of both countries should interact frequently for promotion of two-way trade.

Pakistan is aiming to start negotiation on a free trade agreement (FTA) with Indonesia sometimes this year to expand on the current PTA, which began in 2013.

 

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