China to import more Indonesian products to balance trade

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

JAKARTA (Reuters): China would import more Indonesian products and increase investment in Southeast Asia's largest economy, a top Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday (Jan 13), as Jakarta urged Beijing to remove barriers to make trade between the two countries more balanced.

"We look forward to expanding imports from Indonesia and the Chinese investments in Indonesia so that we could bring about more healthy and balanced growth of trade between our two countries," visiting State Councillor Wang Yi said in a joint statement with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

China is Indonesia's biggest trade partner and an important source of investment, but the large trade deficit with China has often been a source of concern in Indonesia.

The deficit shrunk considerably between January to November 2020, falling to $7 billion from $15.4 billion in the same period in 2019, as Indonesia's demand for imported products plunged amid a coronavirus epidemic and its first recession in 22 years.

Indonesian minister Retno urged China to remove trade barriers for the country's top products, such as palm oil, fisheries, fruits and bird's nest, as a way to address the trade imbalance.

"Efforts should be made to pursue an improving and more balanced trade," she said.

Retno said Indonesia also agreed to a Chinese study over the Lambakan dam project in East Kalimantan. The dam is one of Indonesia's main projects to control floods and is worth around US$400 million, according to local media reports.

Wang did not mention the dam, but said China and Indonesia should have synergy with their respective infrastructure programmes -- the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Maritime Fulcrum programme.

Wang also said he supported Indonesia's plan to become a regional hub for the production of vaccines.

Indonesia on Wednesday began a campaign of mass Covid-19 immunisation with a vaccine supplied by China's Sinovac.

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