JAKARTA : Indonesia has called on businesses in ASEAN and Latin America to make use of existing frameworks of cooperation to boost trade and investment between the two regions.
The call was made by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the ASEAN-Latin Business Forum in Jakarta.
Captains of industries, businessmen and policy makers from Southeast Asia and Latin America gathered in Jakarta to bridge the distance that has prevented all but a trickle of business deals.
Trade between ASEAN and Latin America accounts for only 2.3 per cent of the US$2.5 trillion in trade created by the two regions combined.
President Yudhoyono said: “Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) between the two regions remain low compared to the total flows of their respective investments into other regions.
“This makes our Business Forum today particularly relevant. And this makes economic cooperation between ASEAN and Latin America and the Caribbean even more urgent, especially considering that we are in the midst of a slowdown of the global economy.”
Opening the ASEAN-Latin Business Forum in Jakarta, the Indonesian president pointed out that the two regions are experiencing rapid growth, and this growth offers so much potential that has yet to be tapped.
He said: “To increase trade between our two regions, we will have to resort to facilitation measures that address behind-the-border barriers. We also have to cut the cost of trading. This means reducing the true cost of exporting.”
The Indonesian leader also urged the business community to use the existing framework of cooperation to boost connectivity.
The Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) and ASEAN-MERCUSOR have been set up by governments in the two regions.
Vale, a Brazilian mining and agriculture company, which is one of the biggest from South America, is also one of the very few companies that have established a presence in Southeast Asia.
Beyond Vale, policy makers and captains of industries admit there have been very limited economic interactions between the two regions.
The forum believes it is time for companies from ASEAN and Latin America countries to start courting each other more intensely to provide the new growth opportunities.