Indonesia's Garuda airlines to start operations from Pakistan soonPakistan
KARACHI: The Garuda Airlines of Indonesia will soon start operating from Pakistan as negotiations are in final stages, stated the Indonesian Consul-General Hadi Santoso at the formal inauguration of Pakistan-Indonesia Business Forum (PIBF) here on Friday.
Hadi Santoso assured that under the new policy, Indonesian visas will now be issued the same day to applicants who furnish all required documents.
He further said that easing of visa policy for Pakistani nationals is aimed at enhancing bilateral trade relations and strengthening people-to-people contracts because at government-to-government level both the countries had been enjoying close and warm relations for the last so many decades.
In the past, issuance of visa by the consulate used to take seven days, but from Aug 1, 2015, it was reduced to two days and around 1,967 visas were issued which stood 20 per cent higher than 2014.
Hadi Santoso hoped that the setting up of PIBF will go a long way in promotion of cultural, education, tourism and economic relations and help expand bilateral trade ties.
Responding to a question, Mr Santoso refuted reports that Indonesia has imposed ban on Pakistani rice imports.
On the contrary, he said that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was being signed between the Trade Ministry of Indonesia and the Ministry of Commerce for import of 400,000 tonnes of rice.
Both the ministries are currently engaged in fixing price and quality of rice whereas private sector exporters are meeting their shipment orders from their Indonesian counterparts.
The Consul-General said that current low level of bilateral trade volume at $1.246 billion does not truly translate the actual potential. Both the countries should expand from 10 traditional trade items to other commodities to enhance bilateral trade, he added.
He pointed out that of the $2.246bn, 93pc share is in favour of Indonesia.
He advised Pakistani businessmen to fully exploit PTA (preferential trade agreement) and export more to Indonesia to bridge the gap between the two countries’ trade volume.
Hadi said that under the plan of strengthening bilateral relations, the Karachi University has offered 10 scholarships to Indonesian students while the Indonesian government too has offered eight scholarships to Pakistani students.
Later, he formally inaugurated the PIBF along with its President, Shamoon Zaki.
The PIBF president said that Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country in terms of its population, whereas Pakistan is the world’s second largest Muslim country.
Pakistan is aiming to start negotiations on a free trade agreement (FTA) with Indonesia sometimes this year, to expend on the PTA which began in 2013.
Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2016