11 Jul 2012
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called for more collaboration between countries in Southeast Asia and Latin America, two regions where economic growth remains high despite a global slowdown.
In his keynote speech at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Latin Business Forum 2012 in Jakarta on Monday, Yudhoyono said the two regions had similar characteristics: large populations, growing economies and major commodity production.
The United Nations has predicted that Latin American and Caribbean countries will grow by 4.1 percent this year, down from 4.4 percent last year.
Growth in Asean is projected to reach 5 percent to 7.2 percent this year, up from 4.5 percent in 2011, the president said.
“This makes economic cooperation between Asean and Latin America and the Caribbean even more urgent, especially considering that we are in the midst of a slowdown of the global economy,” Yudhoyono said.
There is strong potential for more trade between the two regions, he added.
Asean and Latin America have aggregate trade of about $2.5 trillion annually, but only 2.3 percent of that represents trade between the two, he said. Foreign direct investment was also low.
“Use this forum to identify the true potential for trade and investment and tourism cooperation among you. Use this forum to find business partners and conclude deals,” Yudhoyono told forum participants, who included business leaders, policy makers and government representatives from both regions.
Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan told a press conference on Monday that a lack of information about business opportunities and risk had left each region stuck with its respective “traditional markets.”
“With the shocks happening now [like the European debt crisis], we have to look for new markets outside our traditional partners,” Gita said.
Jose Luis Silva, Peru’s foreign commerce and tourism minister, said that Peru, Chile, Colombia and Mexico were members of a Pacific Alliance that promotes “complete movement, with no barriers, of goods, services or people.”
“We would be happy to explore the possibility of Indonesia or any other Asean countries being part of this alliance,” he said.