During his state visit to India, Indonesian President Joko Widodo signed three memoranda of understanding. Widodo is on a three-day visit to India (12-13 December) and Iran (14 December) to meet political and corporate leaders and to enhance business and trade relations with the two countries. Indonesia's seventh president is accompanied by Darmin Nasution (Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs), Pratikno (State Secretary), and Thomas Lembong (Chairman of the Investment Coordinating Board, or BKPM).
On Monday (12/12) Widodo met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. The two political leaders signed three memoranda of understanding (MoU):
- trade standardization; trade and economic cooperation between Indonesia and India is expected to increase now both countries aim to harmonize trade standardization (between Indonesia's National Standardization Agency and Bureau of Indian Standardization).
- youth & sports; this MoU involves the sharing of information in the fields of youth and sports between Indonesia's Ministry of Youth and Sports and its Indian counterpart.
- eradication of illegal fishing; both nations agree to a joint communique on voluntary international cooperation to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing and to promote sustainable fisheries governance.
Widodo, who also visits India specifically to boost cooperation in the pharmaceutical, IT, and automotive sectors, is content seeing the signing of the MoU. Meanwhile, Modi said Indonesia is a valuable and key trading partner of Indonesia. Moreover he emphasized the shared historic heritage between both nations.
India is Indonesia's fourth-largest trading partners (and the biggest in the South Asian region). Indonesia has the "upper hand" in this trade relationship, but primarily due to crude palm oil and coal exports. Therefore, Indonesia wants to diversify its exports to India.
Widodo also announced that national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia will have direct flights from Jakarta to Mumbai starting from Monday (12/12). Despite these flights having a stopover in Bangkok (Thailand) they constitute direct flights as the flight number does not change after the journey resumes from Bangkok to Mumbai. Direct flights (hence improved connectivity) is expected to enhance cooperation ("people to people contact") between both nations. Three times per week a Boeing 737-800 NG (156 seats) will carry passengers between both nations.
Arif Wibowo, President Director of Garuda Indonesia, is optimistic that the presence of direct flights between Mumbai and Jakarta will boost the number of Indian tourists to Indonesia. In 2015 a total of 270,000 Indian people visited Indonesia. By the end of 2016 the figure has risen to 350,000 Indian visitors. Wibowo is confident that the figure will rise further in the years ahead, supported by the new direct flights.
On Tuesday (13/12) Widodo is set to meet 20 Indian chief executives with the aim to strengthen existing partnerships as well as to seek new ones.
On Wednesday (14/12) the trip takes Widodo to Tehran (Iran) to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, House Speaker Ali Larijani and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khameinei to seek more partnerships in the oil and gas industry.