Sharm El Sheikh, – Egypt is one of Indonesia’s most important non-traditional trading partners in the Middle East region and ranks third in terms of the total bilateral trade value which will reach USD 1.86 billion in 2021, after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

To that end, Vice President KH Ma’ruf Amin believes that the cooperation between the two countries can be further strengthened through the establishment of a Joint Trade Committee and the development of a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA).

“I ask for Your Excellency’s support so that the MoU on Joint Trade Committee can be signed immediately and the initiative to establish a PTA can be discussed soon,” the Vice President hoped during a bilateral meeting with Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Kamal Madbouly, at the Pavilion of the Egyptian Prime Minister’s Office, Sharm El Sheikh International Convention Center (SHICC), Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, Tuesday (08/11/2022).

Previously, when meeting the Egyptian Ambassador to Indonesia Ashraf Mohamed Moguib Sultan in Jakarta on October 5, the Vice President also emphasized the same thing.

“I noted that there are high import duty rates, especially for finished goods, I hope the Egyptian government can lower the import duty rates. For this reason, I welcome the plan for the Indonesia-Egypt Preferential Trading Agreement,” he said.

In line with the Vice President, PM Kamal Madbouly on this occasion said that Egypt also wanted to continue to increase cooperation with Indonesia in various fields. He wanted to continue the very good relations between the two countries since the days of Indonesian Presidents Soekarno and Suharto, and Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

“Of course, we continue to make strong efforts to increase bilateral cooperation, especially in the field of economic cooperation,” he said.

For information, during 2021 the export value of several Indonesian non-oil and gas commodities to Egypt would increase, namely palm oil, vehicle tires, wood products, passenger vehicles, coconut, sauces and cooking spices, chemical products, footwear, and soap.

Even for the last 3 years, Egypt has always been one of the largest contributors to transactions at Trade Expo Indonesia (TEI). At TEI 2019, Egypt ranked first with USD 270.51 million. In TEI 2020 and 2021, Egypt was in second place with transactions of USD 244.29 million and USD 560.2 million, respectively.

However, there are still challenges in improving trade relations with Egypt. One of them is Egypt’s new policy on import duty tariffs for several imported products. As a result, the prices of Indonesian products entering Egypt are not competitive compared to similar products from other countries.

In the future, Indonesia needs to find a solution so that Egypt draw up a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA). The reason is Indonesia needs to take advantage of Egypt’s strategic position in the region as a hub and gateway for the export of Indonesia’s superior products to markets in Arab and African countries, particularly palm oil products, coffee beans, tire products, battery products, and fishery products.

Currently, the Ministry of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia is finalizing the counter-draft MoU for the establishment of the RI-Egypt Joint Trade Committee (JTC), as a bilateral mechanism to increase trade cooperation, including the plan to establish a PTA. The JTC MoU draft is ready to be signed circularly or directly.

Accompanying the Egyptian PM at this bilateral meeting were Egyptian Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad, Cabinet Secretary-General Osama Saad, Cabinet Media Counselor Hany Younis, and Cabinet Spokesperson Nader Saad.

Meanwhile, the Vice President was accompanied by the Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar, and the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Egypt Lutfi Rauf. (DMA/LHS-BPMI Setwapres)