By Fiona Freddy

The Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Harry Purwanto, has said that though the volume of bilateral trade between Nigeria and Indonesia, is falling, but Nigeria still remains Indonesia’s largest commercial partner.

The envoy stated this while briefing newsmen on the forthcoming 72nd Independence Day of Indonesia in Abuja.

He said the Nigeria-Indonesia bilateral trade reached $4 billion in 2014, but fell down to $2billion last year.

Purwanto blamed this on the low price of crude, which he said is the largest export product from Nigeria to Indonesia.

He said: “We still import the same volume of crude from Nigeria, but the falling oil price in the international market contributes to the low bilateral trade,” adding that “the volume of non-oil exports to Indonesia increased by 12 per cent.”

According to Purwanto, the trade relations, relied on the private sectors, assuring that the Indonesian embassy is committed to ensuring growing trade ties by educating Indonesia’s business community on the investment potentials in Nigeria.

He said successful Indonesian companies already operating in Nigeria are a good testimony for their counterparts in the Southeast Asian nation.

“In July 2017, the two countries have agreed to explore ways of facilitating enhanced, balanced and sustainable trade relations, including reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers,” he added.

He said about 480 Indonesians are resident in Nigeria, the figure he said is lower when compared to the 2,000 Nigerians in Indonesia. He blamed this on the cost of securing Nigerian visa, which discouraged many Indonesians from visiting Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the envoy extolled the virtues of the bilateral relations between the two countries, saying Nigeria and Indonesia are natural partners with many commonalities which he said included huge economic potentials, shared ideals and strong sense of responsibility of international causes as influential nations in Asia and Africa.

He said, “As a true partner for peace and development, Indonesia strives to also deepen relations with Nigeria in terms of capacity building.

“While since 2008, around 200 Nigeria participants have undergone capacity building programmes in Indonesia on subjects such as agriculture, fisheries, oil and gas, good governance, women empowerment, health, poverty reduction, Zakat and endowments, arts & culture and sciences.”

Speaking on the country’s economic development since independence in 1945, the envoy said Indonesia has achieved a lot over the last 72 years, adding that “we still need to keep fortifying our country to be a nation that is prosperous and peaceful.”