Joint Press Statement of President of the Republic of Indonesia and Prime Minister of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea after the Bilateral Meeting at the Bogor Presidential Palace, West Java Province March 31, 2022
President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)
It is an extraordinary honor for me to receive an official visit from Prime Minister James Marape and his delegates.
I would like to express my gratitude that amid COVID-19 pandemic we continue to work hard to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries. I would also like to express my appreciation to (the Independent State of) Papua New Guinea and Prime Minister Marape for respecting Indonesia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. This principle is vital to continue to be respected and imposed consistently by all countries.
Prime Minister Marape and I have held a bilateral meeting in a friendly and productive atmosphere. We discussed efforts to strengthen bilateral cooperation in various sectors and exchanged views on cooperation in the Pacific region.
Issues discussed during the meeting were;
Firstly, we are very pleased with the increase in trade between our two countries in 2021 that increased to 87 percent compared to that of the last year or it also means the value is higher than the one before COVID-19 pandemic. It will bring hopes and optimism over post-pandemic economic recovery. I believe that there are still a lot of opportunities that can be seized. To that end, Indonesia is ready to reopen the border with Papua New Guinea to rebuild cross-border trade and boost economic pulse of people living in border areas. In addition to trade and investment sectors, I also very welcome the launch of feasibility study on the establishment of preferential trade agreement between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
I also notice that it is important to establish a bilateral investment agreement to facilitate, provide security for investors of the two countries. Related to this issue, I assign Minster of State-Owned Enterprises, Minister of Public Works and Public Housing, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, and Minister of Trade as well as delegates of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) and Indonesian entrepreneurs to carry out trade and investment mission to Papua New Guinea in the near future.
Secondly, we exchanged views on the importance of strengthening connectivity on land, sea, and air between the two countries. It is also my hope that there are opportunities for Indonesian construction companies to support the development of connectivity facility and infrastructures in Papua New Guinea.
Thirdly, (we discussed) on defense sector. I hope that the implementation of agreement on defense sector will create more opportunities for military cooperation between two countries including the potential cooperation on defense industry.
Fourthly, (we discussed) on healthcare cooperation between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. I expressed Indonesia’s readiness to support Papua New Guinea’s efforts in strengthening its national resilience in healthcare sector through partnership between the Food and Drug Monitoring Agencies of two countries. Moreover, Indonesian pharmaceutical companies also have shown their interest in marketing their products in Papua New Guinean market.
Fifthly, we also discussed on synergy between the two countries in strengthening cooperation with south pacific countries in sustainable development, climate change, renewable energy, maritime, disaster management sectors which are also the challenges for Pacific Island countries. One of Indonesia’s concerns to Pacific Island countries is also realized by inviting the representatives of Pacific Island Forum (PIF) to attend the G20 Summit.
I thank you, Prime Minister Marape for today’s constructive meeting. And I would like to invite Your Excellency Prime Minister to deliver your statement.
Prime Minister of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (James Marape)
Thank you very much, His Excellency President Widodo.
Let me say thank you again to through this public press, to yourself, your good wife, as well as your cabinet, your ministers, your government for accepting me and Rachel and my ministers and my delegations at short notice to come to visit you in your lovely country and in your capital, Jakarta, as well as in your palace here.
Some relationships as we said inside, you have not chosen those relationships, it exists by the design of God. For us, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia is a relationship that we cannot ignore because we are here to stay. We are not just friends but more importantly brothers and sisters, our nation has been together since time immemorial And Papua New Guinea, Mr President, is always in to Indonesia to give respect to our friendship, our brotherhood, and our relationship.
We have always had a good relationship since 1976 when our two nations established formally our bilateral relationships. I just want to say thank you very much again, it is to for accepting us to come, to pay courtesy call, pay due respect, and give recognition ways to especially the context of what Indonesia has been to us in the last 46 years. We have been an independent nation.
You stood with us on many fronts. From the wide goal when we became important bilateral partners formally in 1976. You were responsible for our admission into the APEC family, you have always been there for us in some of our moments when we have struggled as a nation, in our own Bougainville crisis days, in our financial stressful days, and lately in our COVID-19 crisis. The helping hand from Indonesia did come to Papua New Guinea.
And in that respect, Papua New Guinean government, Papua New Guinean leaders, Papua New Guinean business houses, and Papua New Guinean public servants forever will relate to Indonesia as we have been in the past, today, and we will into the future.
my delegation here has been totally given the respect and we feel it that it is also ideal for us to send an invitation to you and the government of Indonesia to visit Port Moresby next year so that we have these annual meetings that exchanges between our two nations as intended for in 2013 when Indonesia’s then President and Papua New Guinea’s then Prime Minister made that understanding in the comprehensive partnership agreement understanding in 2013.
Unfortunately, seven years have gone by without those acknowledged changes and I am happy that yourself and your leadership, you see the importance of that reconnection with Papua New Guinea at the government-to-government level but as with it may mention today and for the media, it is just not myself and the President, government to government, we brought ministers who have connected with ministers. We are bringing our private sectors. We are connecting with the private sector.
In fact I will be addressing, Mr. President, the Jakarta and the Indonesian council of business later today, and so it is those special contexts that are important for our two Nations to coexist and support one another going forward into the future.
For the Papua New Guinean media and for Papua New Guinea, Indonesia is a big country. It’s a trillion dollar economy. They are in G20. In fact, this year we wish you all the very best in your hosting of G20 this year. We thank you for inviting the Pacific Island Forum members to be at the margins and be involved in the G20 meeting later this year. But your presence in G20 for Papua New Guinea and the media is an indication that Indonesia is a big economy. It’s a sleeping giant in as far as Papuan Guinea tapping into potentials Indonesia already has in what you could offer to our own small economy to grow.
And Mr. President, I just want to conclude by saying that our comprehensive partnership as two nations is now entrenched in this meeting that we’ve had and on a personal level, our meeting went very well, but at the government-to-government level, our bilateral went very well and we look forward to our officials on both sides working those agreements. Different cooperation agreements will be finalized at the very earliest.
And our economic cooperation agreements, border agreements. We want to increase more exchanges, especially at the commercial level, at the business level, not just at the border exchanges, but in greater and deeper into Indonesia, as well as Indonesia deeper into Western Papua New Guinea.
For so long we’ve just focused on border issues. This discussion between the President and myself has now elevated discussion outside of the border issues and more into trade, commerce, economy, public service exchanges, health services and education services exchanges.
I think, Mr. President, it was a timely meeting between us, representing our two people, and our two countries, and our two governments.
And I look forward to our meeting in Port Moresby next year when you come and we will see how much we progress and strengthen our relationships for the better going forward into the future.
Thank you very much, Mr. President. (AP/LW)