by Abu Hanifah
JAKARTA, Nov. 5 (Xinhua) -- The China International Import Expo (CIIE) will serve as an eye-opening trade event for Indonesian businesses amid increasing external pressures.
The CIIE is the Chinese government's significant initiative to further promote high-level opening-up as well as a major action to proactively open the Chinese market to the world.
This action showcases China's confidence and determination to open up, which has drawn high praises and warm responses from the international community.
The main event is being held at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai on Nov. 5-10, and is expected to give opportunities for a myriad of international firms to directly attract Chinese consumers in the vibrant Asian economy with nearly 1.4 billion population.
The event came at the right time amid Indonesia's herculean efforts to expand its exports to tackle continued external pressures that give significant difficulties to the economy heavily reliant on imports.
Indonesia's trade deficit amounted to 4.09 billion U.S. dollars in the first eight months this year, prompting the government to take various steps to slow it down.
Measures to address this issue and make the nation's economy stable include expanding the use of biodiesel in the national fuel mix, restricting import of non-essential equipment, delaying several infrastructure projects and levying more tax on certain imported products.
Another reason to expand exports is the decreasing value of Indonesia' national currency against the U.S. dollar and the trend is estimated to continue until next year.
Against this backdrop, the CIIE is a great opportunity for Indonesian businesses to further tap the Chinese market, which has been the nation's largest source of trade and investment in the last several years.
Indonesia Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan said ahead of the CIIE that it is a huge and strategic event to spur world economies.
He added that Indonesia has booked exhibition space for Indonesian businessmen to directly interact with potential buyers at the international trade event.
"Indonesia has a myriad of products that can be offered in the CIIE, including tour packages to visit plenty of destinations in Indonesia and agricultural products, like coffee, chocolate, palm oil among others," the senior minister told Xinhua recently in his office.
He said China is an extraordinary lucrative market for various commodities due to its huge population with a growing middle class, which is now estimated to have reached over 900 million.
Tourism products would be among the ones most prioritized by the government during the CIIE given the fact that China has the world's most potential tourists with outbound travelers totalling over 100 million per year, the minister said.
Indonesia expects to attract 10 million of them within the next several years. Chinese tourists have dominated the foreign tourists to Indonesia, a vast archipelago country home to over 17,500 islands. Most of them visited the resort island of Bali.
"We expect to see them visit more destinations other than Bali. Indonesia has other exotic islands across the country. To achieve our targets we are now expanding infrastructure to support tourism in the regions, including airports, hotels and destination facilities. We also expand direct flights serving Indonesian and Chinese cities," the minister added.
Through those measures, Indonesia expects to see the arrival of 4 to 5 million Chinese tourists who visit more Indonesian destinations other than Bali within the next few years.
He expected that the CIIE would serve as another cornerstone for further increased trade cooperation between Indonesia and China, particularly in promoting new products whose trade can be explored further to equally benefit Indonesian and Chinese business counterparts.
"Through the expanded trade cooperation initiated from the CIIE, China may find more sources to comply with its increasing consumer demands, while Indonesia can push forward its related industries to boost exports which eventually may balance the nation's import and export figures," Luhut said.
Luhut was assigned by Indonesian President Joko Widodo to attend the CIIE opening ceremony to represent Indonesia at the event.
The CIIE also came at the right moment when the relations between Indonesia and China have significantly expanded since their comprehensive strategic partnership was declared in 2013.
Indonesian Parliament Speaker Bambang Soesatyo said earlier that many mutually-beneficial investments have been made in Indonesia since then, making the uplifted ties meaningful for the two economies.
The two-way trade between Indonesia and China has also been blossoming with 58.8 billion U.S. dollars recorded last year, up from 47.6 billion U.S. dollars a year earlier.
"Therefore mutually-beneficial cooperation needs to be promoted further so as to assure no side would lose from the cooperation and is either superior or inferior in it," Bambang told Xinhua.