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Presidents Jokowi and President Wickremesinghe Talk on Increasing Cooperation between Indonesia and Sri Lanka

A bilateral meeting between Ranil Wickremesinghe, the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) took place on the sidelines of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, China. The two talked about expanding their collaboration in a number of sectors during their discussion.

During the meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasised the need to strengthen the political, economic, and cultural links between Sri Lanka and Indonesia by preserving the identity of the Indian Ocean.

President Jokowi responded favourably to Sri Lanka’s request to establish a preferential trade deal with Indonesia within the framework of the economy. “I strongly support Sri Lanka’s proposal to establish a preferential trade agreement with Indonesia,” the President said.

Additionally, President Jokowi expressed optimism that Sri Lanka could change its stance on the importation of palm oil. He emphasised that the main product produced in Indonesia in accordance with environmental norms is palm oil. He assertively added that he proposed a specific mechanism that seeks to reopen access to Sri Lanka’s market for Indonesia’s palm oil.

In regards to the participation of Indonesian BUMN (Badan Usaha Milik Negara)/SOEs (State Owned Enterprises) in Sri Lanka, the President noted that various Indonesian SOEs have explored concrete collaboration with Sri Lanka. He hoped that President Wickremesinghe might promote this collaboration, particularly in the areas of printing electronic passports for Sri Lanka and purchasing railway carriages.

Presidents Jokowi and Wickremesinghe also addressed collaboration in the blue economy. President Jokowi commended Sri Lanka’s intention to become an ASEAN Sectoral Partner and reiterated Indonesia’s support for Sri Lanka’s leadership in IORA from 2023 to 2025.

The President highlighted that recently, Indonesia hosted the Archipelagic and Island States (AIS) Forum Summit as a venue for island nation collaboration to support creative solutions in sustainable ocean management. The leaders discussed in-depth viewpoints on current global economic and political developments and how small governments in Asia are handling those challenges.

During the meeting, President Jokowi was accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, Minister of State-Owned Enterprises and Ad Interim Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Erick Thohir, Minister of Trade Zulkifli Hasan, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, and Indonesian Ambassador to the PRC Djauhari Oratmangun. The Sri Lankan delegation was led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry, the President’s Senior Adviser on National Security, and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayaka.