Indonesia’s trade and culture show

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IT TAKES about the same time for one to reach Bitung, Indonesia and Cebu City in the Visayas if one flies from the Davao International Airport. Yet, according to Indonesian Consul General Berlian Napitupulu both countries have much to know about each other.

He said this is most obvious in the trade volume which is US$4.5 billion with only less than 1 percent increase year on year, very low considering the proximity and long historical and cultural ties of both countries.

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Brisk promotions and fostering cultural understanding , the Consul General said, is key to a flourishing trade between the neighboring countries.

Cultural showcase

Endah Yuliarti Farry, Consul for Information and Socio-Cultural Affairs, said that the first activity they had for this year was their participation in the Araw ng Davao Cultural Show Presentation last Monday which she noted as successful.

Their cultural presentation included playing the angklung, a musical instrument from Indonesia made of a varying number of bamboo tubes attached to a bamboo frame. Many showed interest in learning to play the instrument which has some similarity to the Philippine’s indigenous instruments.

The Indonesian Trade Expo at the House of Indonesia runs simultaneously with the Indonesian Culinary Festival held at the Marco Polo Hotel. Both events which will run for three days, March 17 to 19, will jumpstart the series of cultural and trade activities they have lined up for this year.

At the House of Indonesia at Juan Subdivision, Matina, a good number of people wandered around the spacious building, visiting 18 booths showcasing various Indonesian products.

Consul General Napitupulu said many were surprised to know that some of the popular products in the local market such as Kopiko, came from Indonesia.

“This is because the products you can see in the market came from a third country which, in the final analysis, makes the product more expensive,” he said. But things are up for change.

“Minda chair Alonto, (MinDA Chairman Secretary Datu Hj. Abul Khayr Alonto) said he is highly optimistic that our bilateral trade will flourish, and I share his optimism,” Napitupulu said.

With the RORO (roll-on, roll-off) shipping service expected to begin next month, trade is expected to perk up.

According to MinDA Asst. Secretary Romeo Montenegro, the shipping service will link Davao and General Santos cities to Bitung City in Indonesia. Linkages like this need to be established to spur growth in the BIMP-EAGA region.

Napitupulu said this will drastically cut the shipping time from the usual two to three weeks to only about two days. This would translate to faster movement of goods from the two countries which is crucial in international trade.

This year marks the 68th anniversary of bilateral relations between the Philippines and Indonesia, established on November 24, 1949. They are part of the founding members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

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