Officials from Indonesia and India have called for greater cooperation and investment between the two Asian economic powerhouses by building on their shared people-to-people ties.
The call was made at a meeting of members of the Indian diaspora in Medan, North Sumatra, on Monday, organized by the Overseas Indian Facilitation Center, India’s Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Indian Consulate General in Medan.
“There are an estimated 50,000 Indians and PIOs [persons of Indian origin] living in the entire Sumatra region, and approximately 20,000 in Medan,” said Bashir Ahmed, the consul general.
“There has been a free exchange of ideas, customs and traditions between the Indian community and local Sumatra population. The Indian community has adjusted and incorporated several elements from Sumatran society.”
Tohar Sumarsono, the acting chairman of the North Sumatra chapter of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), said he was hopeful that the diaspora meeting would be the starting point for cooperation between India and Indonesia, and North Sumatra in particular, and urged the Indian government to invest in the many ongoing and planned projects in the province.
Gurjit Singh, the Indian ambassador to Indonesia, said bilateral trade was booming, but that the “next frontier” would be to increase investments in both countries.
“The challenge now is to look at investment being the next frontier and to see how trade can be diversified by having cross investments,” he said.
“We have a few business delegations from India to Indonesia planned in 2013 to discuss business with Indonesian companies,” he added, and called on the Indonesian government to organize similar delegations to India.