pakistan and indonesia

Written by Zohra Asif 12:09 pm Articles, International Relations, Pakistan, Published Content

Relations Between Pakistan and Indonesia: Deepening Trade & Engaging with ASEAN

This year, the Republic of Indonesia and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan celebrate 71 years of diplomatic relations. The author, Zohra Asif, discusses how expanding bilateral trade relations can prove to be vital in strengthening and diversifying Pakistan’s economy. As challenging as it is, Indonesia has assured Pakistan of its support in helping the latter attain Full Dialogue Partner status with ASEAN.
About the Author(s)
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Ms Zohra Asif is currently pursuing a Bachelor's in International Relations from International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI).

Indonesia-Pakistan Relations

Pakistan enjoys great diplomatic relations with a few countries such as Bosnia, Turkey, and China. Indonesia is a country that Pakistan has long had ties with and can augment relations with further. The world’s largest Muslim population is in Indonesia, whereas the world’s second-largest Muslim population can be found in Pakistan. Pakistan and Indonesia established strategic ties in 1950. Formally, Indonesia-Pakistan relations began with the signing of the Treaty of Friendship in Jakarta on March 3, 1951. The treaty laid the groundwork for mutually beneficial cooperation.

Indonesia encouraged Pakistan to acquire ASEAN’s Sectoral Dialogue Partner status in 1993 and then pushed it to become an independent member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 2004. The trade relations between the two nations have made great progress, as Indonesia has become one of Pakistan’s important trading partners.

On January 26, 2018, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia arrived in Islamabad for a two-day state visit, and prominent MOUs were signed between the countries, a watershed moment in Pakistan-Indonesia relations.

ASEAN and Pakistan: A Route to Pakistan’s Welfare

Pakistan and ASEAN have committed to cooperating in a variety of areas including commerce, industry, investment, environment, science and technology, drugs and narcotics, tourism, and human resource development. Pakistan has taken many initiatives to deepen trade with ASEAN member states as part of its Vision East Asia agenda.

Domestic compulsions and regional difficulties, especially Pakistan’s role in the war on terror, have become an obstacle to conducting a comprehensive and successful engagement with Southeast Asia. Pakistan’s attempt to diversify its industrial base has the potential to find a place in ASEAN markets, and it could also learn from the achievements of ASEAN countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand in attaining economic advancement through industrialization.

Also Read:  Analyzing Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan's Human Development Index & GDP

Pakistan seeks to obtain a Full Dialogue Partner status with ASEAN, which ensures increased political, commercial, and economic links with ASEAN member states. Pakistan’s commercial activities with ASEAN admittedly fall short of its potential.

Due to the lack of infrastructure, low labour quality, and high trade prices, Indonesia’s participation level in several industries, particularly the automobile industry, is trailing behind other ASEAN countries. China’s trade with ASEAN members was estimated to be worth $600 billion, while bilateral trade between Pakistan and ASEAN is only a little over $7 billion.

Given the establishment of geo-economic and geostrategic regional alliances, the creation of a beneficial and comprehensive ASEAN-Pakistan collaboration is of particular importance. To improve ASEAN-Pakistan collaboration in the future, ASEAN countries have sought to build partnerships with Pakistan through joint ventures and increased engagement in the domains of scientific research, education, information technology, and agriculture.

Prospects for Academic Cooperation Between Indonesia and Pakistan

The Indonesian government has approved 1000 scholarships for Pakistani students at the top 23 universities of Indonesia in Entomology, Microbiology, Pharmacy, Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Clinical Pharmacy, Information Technology, Psychology, Electrical Engineering, Informatics and Computer Engineering.

Trade Ties between Pakistan and Indonesia

Since the implementation of the Preferential Trade Agreement in 2013, relations between the two countries have progressed dramatically. Mutual trade has precipitously increased with a bilateral trade volume of $ 2.6 billion in 2020. Pakistan largely exports cotton, raw hides and skin, semi-finished iron, rice, and citrus.

Palm oil is Pakistan’s largest import from Indonesia. Coal, manmade staple filaments, paper and paperboard, betel nuts, elastic, cleanser arrangements, tea, substance items, natural synthetic chemicals, and motor vehicles, among other things, are other important imported items.

Also Read:  Pakistan Peoples Party: Zardari's New Survival Strategy

ASEAN Forum and Cooperation

ASEAN has the capacity to upgrade multilateral relations. This extensive commitment would enhance people-to-people and government-to-government contacts. Joint collaborations would help integrate nations and improve multilateral relations between ASEAN members and Pakistan. ASEAN member states and Pakistan can participate in number of fields, including China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the energy sector. ASEAN nations have extraordinary monetary capacity. Furthermore, monetary interest in numerous financial ventures in Pakistan would upgrade participation.

Suggestions for Cooperation and Joint Ventures

There exists immense potential for trade, investment, and economic cooperation between both countries and hence more people-to-people contacts should be ensured as Indonesia and Pakistan are emerging economies. More regional conferences, seminars, and discussions between the people of Indonesia and Pakistan should be organized. Pakistan and Indonesia must continue to enhance their strengths by supporting each other at all levels.

Both can change regional dynamics in favour of mutual goals towards peace and prosperity. Pakistan and ASEAN should foster their relationship through both organisational and bilateral avenues. For more productive outputs, the practical and functional factors should be considered. In particular, when it comes to commerce, one should be pragmatic and consider both the potential and problems in advancing relations forward.


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The views and opinions expressed in this article/paper are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Paradigm Shift.

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