JAKARTA: Indonesia is seeking to expand its export opportunities and trade cooperation in the Middle East and the African markets by participating in the World Expo 2020 in Dubai, UAE next year, a Trade Ministry official told Arab News on Sunday.
“The UAE is a regional hub, and we aim to expand our export, which currently remains at less than 1 percent of the total demand in the Middle East, African, West Asian and European regions,” said Kasan Muhri, Trade Ministry director general for national export development.
Kasan added that Indonesia also expects to bag other tangible benefits from its participation, such as attracting more foreign tourists to the country.
Indonesia’s tourism sector suffered a major setback due to travel restrictions imposed in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, against an initial target of 17 million foreign visitors to the country this year.
The resort island of Bali, Indonesia’s most famous tourist destination, alone suffered losses amounting to 9.7 trillion rupiahs ($653 million) every month, while the island’s growth in the second quarter of this year contracted by 10.98 percent as the island’s revenue from the tourism sector plummeted after tourists stopped visiting, Bali Deputy Gov. Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati said during a recent webinar on World Tourism Day 2020.
During the launch of the one-year countdown for the expo, which was streamed live on Oct. 1, Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto reaffirmed Indonesia’s participation at the event.
Originally scheduled to take place in October this year, Expo 2020 was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be held between Oct. 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022, instead.
“Even though the pandemic has restricted the world from meeting in Dubai this year, on behalf of the Indonesian government we reiterated our commitment to the expo in Dubai,” Suparmanto said during the launch.
He added that Indonesia would continue to see a positive impact from its participation at the expo despite a one-year delay. The gap year, he said, would enable direct interaction with potential business partners and help to attract 2.5 million visitors to the pavilion or 10 percent of the total 25 million footfall expected at the event.
“We hope the (COVID-19) vaccine would be available by then so that visitors and other participants would be able to interact more freely,” Suparmanto said.
UAE’s Ambassador to Indonesia Abdullah Salem Obeid Al-Dhaheri, who was at the launch, said that the emirates placed great importance on Indonesia’s participation at the Expo 2020 in Dubai.
“I take this opportunity to extend our highest appreciation to the Indonesia government’s continued commitment to the Expo 2020,” Al-Dhaheri said. He added that his government was working hard to make the multibillion-dollar global expo a central platform “to showcase human achievements in many fields.”
“This global event conveys the UAE’s ability to connect and aspire millions of people from around the world to celebrate human progress and create a better future,” he said.
Indonesia’s participation at the expo will be marked by a three-story, 3,000-square-meter pavilion on a 1,860-square-meter lot to showcase a mix of futuristic and traditional designs from the country.
The UAE is Indonesia’s second-largest trade partner in the Gulf region after Saudi Arabia and ranks 21 in its list of export destination countries. It is also the 15th source of imports for Indonesia, according to data provided by the Trade Ministry.
The total trade value from Indonesia to the UAE reached $1.68 billion from January to July this year.
In 2019, Indonesia’s trade with the UAE was $3.65 billion, comprising $1.47 billion in exports and $2.18 billion in imports, while the UAE injected $69.7 million of investment in 102 projects mainly in the mining, food, husbandry, pharmaceutical, and chemicals, services, housing, and industrial and business sectors.