Indonesia and Tunisia agreed to increase bilateral cooperation across several areas, including in economy, counterterrorism and capacity-building when Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi met her Tunisian counterpart, Khemaies Jhinaoui, on Tuesday (02/10) in Tunis.
“Strong political relations between Indonesia and Tunisia serve as a strong foundation to develop economic cooperation between the two countries,” Retno said in a statement released by the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
Retno and Jhinaoui met during the former’s visit to the North African country, where discussing opportunities to increase bilateral cooperation was the main agenda.
According to Retno, bilateral trade between the two countries – which was worth $63 million in the first half of 2017 – has yet to reflect its true potential.
Both ministers agreed to take concrete steps to lessen trade barriers in order to create more growth, cut short negotiations on preferential trade agreement (PTA) and increase dialogues between business leaders from Indonesia and Tunisia.
With Indonesian investment in gas and oil in Tunisia already totaling more than $100 million, Retno expressed her hope that the Tunisian government will provide even more support for Indonesian businesses wanting to invest in the country.
During her short stay in Tunis, Retno also invited the Tunisian business community to attend the upcoming Trade Expo Indonesia in Jakarta on Oct. 11-15.
Retno and Jhinaoui also agreed to improve cooperation in counterterrorism, which will focus on intelligence sharing, curbing terrorism financing, pacifying foreign terrorist fighters (FTF), deradicalization programs and interfaith dialogues.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the cooperation is still being negotiated, but both ministers said it should be completed soon.
According to Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, the two countries also want to increase technical cooperation and capacity-building.
Tunisia is often considered to be the only full-fledged democracy among Arab countries, and a success story in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.
The democratic revolution in Tunisia was sparked by the self-immolation of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi in December 2010, which led to President Zine El Abidine-Ben Ali stepping down after more than two decades in power, as well as widespread street protests to shake up regimes in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.