The leaders of Indonesia and Iran signed a preferential trade agreement to expand economic relations on Tuesday, during the official visit of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.
President Joko Widodo expressed optimism that the pact “would increase trade between Indonesia and Iran” in remarks made following the signing ceremony, which were broadcast online by Indonesia’s cabinet secretariat.
The death of a Kurdish woman in the custody of morality police last year strained relations between Iran and the West, and Raisi’s visit coincides with heightened tensions. Protests against the country’s clerical elite were violently suppressed by Iranian security forces.
Several countries, including the United States, have imposed severe sanctions on Iran in response to its nuclear program and alleged human rights violations.
Following the imposition of US sanctions on Iran in 2018, trade between Indonesia and Iran fell from $715.5 million in 2018 to $141.6 million in 2019
Sanctions and threats will not deter us,” Raisi said on Tuesday through a translator.
“Partnerships and relationships with neighboring countries, Islamic countries, and countries with similar views are our top priority,” he added.
Djatmiko Bris Witjaksono, a trade ministry official in Indonesia, said on Tuesday that the two countries had agreed to a “countertrade” scheme that would allow the exchange of goods and services “without being constrained by scarcity or currency difficulties.”
According to the Indonesian trade ministry, the current bilateral trade volume is $250 million, with Indonesia enjoying a $200 million surplus.
Djatmiko told reporters on Monday that Indonesia is actively seeking to expand its trade ties with the Middle East and its neighboring countries.
“Iran could be a gateway to the surrounding region, such as Central Asia or even to Turkey, because we do not yet have a trade agreement with Turkey,” he explained.
Under a Tuesday agreement, Iran agreed to increase Indonesia’s access to goods such as processed food and pharmaceuticals, textiles, palm oil, coffee, and tea in exchange for lower tariffs on Iranian oil and chemical products, metals, and some dairy products.
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