Jakarta. Indonesia and Cambodia agreed to explore possibilities for increased cooperation in tourism and in the pharmaceutical industry during a foreign ministers' meeting in Jakarta on Friday (02/02).
"Indonesia looks forward to exploring the opportunity to address the demand for pharmaceutical products on the Cambodian market, and seeks the support of the Cambodian government for Indonesian companies to invest in the industry," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in statement.
Indonesia and Cambodia are going to use the joint commission for bilateral cooperation (JCBC) to improve relations. The next meeting is set to take place in the second half of the year.
In 2016, Indonesia invested more than $350 million in Cambodia, in various sectors, including housing, transportation and infrastructure.
Between January and November last year, trade between the two countries was worth nearly $500 million, showing an increase of 23 percent compared to the same period in 2016.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, bilateral trade has shown a positive trend in the past five years, with Indonesia on the surplus side.
In tourism, Retno and her Cambodian counterpart, Prak Sokhonn, discussed the possibilities to jointly promote the Borobudur temple in Central Java and Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, both of which are Unesco's World Heritage sites.
"We are talking about creating a tourism link between Siem Reap, Central Java and Bali … we also discussed future direct flights between our countries," Prak said.
In his statement, Prak also mentioned that Cambodia attaches great importance to its relations with Indonesia.
Next year, the two Southeast Asian countries will celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations.
Retno and Prak also agreed on the importance of unity and centrality of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
"Asean member states must work effectively together to ensure these goals," Retno said.
On the South China Sea, both ministers expressed hope that negotiations will be finalized soon.
"We look forward to the negotiations over the code of conduct in the South China Sea, scheduled for March," Retno said.
Cooperation for Democracy
Retno said Indonesia and Cambodia will continue working together for institutional reform, which includes collaboration between Indonesia's Institute of Peace and Democracy and the Cambodian Institute of Cooperation and Peace.
In the meeting, Prak invited Indonesian observers to attend his country's general election this year. In June, Indonesia observed Cambodia's communal election.
In the past year, Cambodia was subject to international criticism regarding its state of democracy, after the dissolution of the country's main opposition party, the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), ahead of the upcoming polls. The move was followed by restrictions on media freedom.
The Democracy Index 2017 by the Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Cambodia 124th out of 167 countries, and changed its status from "hybrid regime" to "authoritarian."
Indonesia's rank also dropped, 20 places, to 68th.
"In the meeting … I also expressed the determination of Cambodia in maintaining its path in the democratic process, while defending our independence, sovereignty, peace and stability," Prak said.