JAKARTA: Indonesia is seeking easier access to Saudi Arabia for its food products, as the country hopes to tap into export opportunities.
The Indonesian Food and Drug Authority held a high-level dialogue with the Saudi Food and Drug Authority in Riyadh in April, where it agreed to strengthen cooperation and expand trade between the two countries in food and medicines.
“With a smoother regulatory process and ease of access, Indonesian food firms can expand their market share to Saudi Arabia,” the Indonesian Food and Drug Authority, also known by its local acronym BPOM, told Arab News.
“This can boost economic growth in the two countries and increase economic cooperation between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia,” BPOM said.
The meeting in Riyadh was led by BPOM Head Penny K. Lukito and SFDA CEO Hisham bin Saad Al-Jadhey as part of a visit focused on easing access of Indonesian food products.
Lukito’s visit followed a trade mission led by Indonesian Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan in January, who also met with Al-Jadhey in a bid to boost Indonesian food exports to the Kingdom.
“Indonesian food products have a huge export potential to Saudi Arabia, especially considering the large share of the market of Indonesian umrah and Hajj pilgrims,” BPOM said.
Hundreds and thousands of Indonesian pilgrims travel to Saudi Arabia annually. This year, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country was allotted 221,000 Hajj pilgrim quota, with around 675,000 others estimated to perform the Umrah pilgrimage.
This group alone offers a captive market for Indonesian food products, BPOM said, as it hopes to further tap into the larger consumer market in the Kingdom.
“Besides Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, there are also Saudi local citizens and diaspora, who are potential consumers of Indonesian food products,” the agency said.
In her meeting with Al-Jadhey, Lukito also proposed a mutual recognition arrangement between the two agencies.
BPOM is expecting its Saudi counterpart to pay an on-site inspection visit to Indonesia in the near future, which will lay the foundation for the proposed arrangement, it said.
“BPOM and SFDA have agreed to continue strengthening cooperation and push for an even broader trade of medicine and food between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.”