JAKARTA – Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri met on Wednesday with his Indonesian counterpart, Joko Widodo, in a bid to boost trade ties between the two nations during a stopover in the Asian country en route to the upcoming G20 leaders’ summit in Japan.
Macri said after meeting with Widodo at the presidential palace in Bogor – located some 45 kilometers (28 miles) south of Jakarta – that they discussed resuming talks between Indonesia and the South American regional economic bloc Mercosur on a future free trade deal.
“I am here to reiterate that we believe there is an enormous potential to this relationship,” Macri said in the joint press conference following the meeting.
Argentina is the Southeast Asian archipelago’s most important trading partner in South America.
It primarily exports press cakes and cereals to the world’s largest Muslim country, while Indonesia sells Argentina rubber and its derived products, machinery and electronic equipment.
Total trade between the two countries reached $1.68 billion in 2018. That year, Argentina had a $1.2 billion surplus in the balance of trade, according to data from the Indonesian ministry of commerce.
Macri stressed the importance of the rail and aeronautic sectors when it came to increasing industrial cooperation between the two partners.
He added that another objective was to streamline the mutual visa application process.
Macri also congratulated the Indonesian leader for his victory in the presidential elections held in April.
At the end of the press conference, Macri gifted Widodo a number 10 jersey of the Argentinian national men’s soccer team.
Later in the day, Macri will depart Jakarta and head to Osaka, Japan’s third-largest city, which is hosting this year’s G20 summit.
He is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ahead of the summit.