Indonesian Trade Vice Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi arrived in Manila yesterday 11 September to witness the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the countries’ lead seaweeds organizations Asosiasi Rumput Laut Indonesia and the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines.

“This MOU is a result of continuing discussions between the Philippines and Indonesia to expand trade relations and investment. We are forging deeper economic ties between the two countries by significant exploring other avenues for complementation and collaboration. We have made progress in the areas of sea connectivity, and exploring mining and palm oil.” Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr said.

Cristobal added that the country’s international trade strategy promotes the interests of the Philippines in the global community with the goal of generating more investments, creating meaningful employment opportunities and providing better sources of livelihood.

Aside from the cooperation to develop the Seaweeds industry, another milestone in PH-Indonesia relations is the roll-on roll-off (RORO) service to ASEAN which will soon be available with establishment of the Davao-GenSan (Philippines)- Bitung (Indonesia) Ro-Ro route. The first ASEAN RoRo aims to further increase trade and economic activities between the two countries.

Both countries are also exploring cooperation in other areas including steel, geothermal, shipbuilding, chocolate and cacao production, and trade promotion activities in the East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

Indonesian Ambassador to the Philippines H.E. Johny J. Lumintang joined Undersecretary Cristobal and Vice Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi during the signing ceremony.

The collaborative partnership between the Asosiasi Rumput Laut Indonesia (ARLI) and the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines (SIAP) will include sharing of good farming practices, cultivate enhancement and marketing expansion practices. Both SIAP and ARLI envision the possibility of investments or joint ventures in seaweed farming and processing in either country. Indonesia and the Philippines are the two top sources of seaweeds in ASEAN.

Within ASEAN, the Philippines and Indonesia together account for 343 million people or more than half of 617 million total ASEAN population. Philippine companies in Indonesia are in food and food processing, personal care products, manpower services and consulting, pharmaceuticals, and energy research and exploration. In recent years Philippine franchises including Potato Corner, Gingersnaps, Penshoppe and Julie’s Bakeshop have established a foothold in Indonesia.