Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Thailand, Indonesia vow to boost trade

Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (AFP, Romeo Gacad)

JAKARTA — Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Monday vowed to improve economic cooperation with Indonesia, particularly in the agriculture, energy and tourism sectors.

In her fist state visit to Indonesia, Yingluck said that she and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono were pleased with the rapidly increasing flow of trade, which in 2010 jumped 34 percent to around $12 billion.

"However, both the president and I agree that there are other ways to expand our economic cooperation and trade, especially in the areas of energy and tourism," Yingluck said.

Thai and Indonesian officials said that both countries would renew a rice agreement that was due to expire this year, with plans to export 300,000 tonnes a year to Indonesia, according to the Antara state news agency.

"Thailand and Indonesia are determined to contribute to regional food security. We hope to continue cooperation in rice trade," Yudhoyono said.

Yingluck, who was elected in May, is in Indonesia on the second leg of her tour of Southeast Asian nations in the ASEAN bloc.

She is scheduled to meet with Cambodian Prime Minster Hun Sen on Thursday to discuss, among other things, a long-standing border dispute over land surrounding Cambodia's 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

In February, 10 people were killed in fighting at the temple, and fresh clashes broke out further west in April, leaving 18 dead and prompting 85,000 civilians to flee.

The International Court of justice ordered Indonesia, as chair of ASEAN, to enter the demilitarised zone as observers, and facilitate the pullout of Thai and Cambodian forces.

Thailand's objection has prevented Indonesia from carrying out the order. Since Yingluck's election, unrest on the border has subsided.

"In this regard, I express my deep appreciation to the president for his support and understanding of the Thai government's policy in resolving the situation on the southern border provinces," she said.

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