JAKARTA – There is a renewed interest in Indonesia to do business with Pakistan following the conclusion of the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between the two countries earlier this year, according to the Pakistani envoy in Jakarta.

“The signs are positive; the trade is moving upwards,” Ambassador Mian Sanaullah said in an interview with APP Special Correspondent. “our relations are very friendly and cordial,” he added. “In past three years, we have tried to take the time-tested relations (between Indonesia and Pakistan) to a higher level,” the Pakistani envoy went on to say.

Under the PTA, Indonesia and Pakistan have agreed to offer market access to each other on nearly 500 tariff lines on preferential rate. “This concessional package (PTA) did not come easily,” Ambassador Sanaullah said, pointing out that his team had to work hard as the tariff lines related to both commodity and manufacturing goods. Pakistan has ratified the agreement and Indonesia is expected to follow suit. As the two sides worked for PTA, Pakistan’s exports to Indonesia increased by 60 per cent, Sanaullah said. “For the first time, we are selling new products like wheat, cereals, citrus, bicycles, ladies garments, fans, surgical products and finished leather. Our success comes with the support of Indonesian friends and business people.

At the same time, Ambassador Sanaullah acknowledged that the bilateral economic relations were still much below the prevailing potential. The economy of Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population, is booming. Full-year 2011 growth of 6.5 per cent, the strongest pace since 1996 when the economy expanded 8.0 per cent, IMF data shows.

“Trade volume should have been more, given our historic relations and complementarities in our economies,” the Pakistani Ambassador said of the economic ties.

“Fortunately, the situation has starteed to do lots of catching up.

“We need to inject more economic content in our relations. Our bilateral trade should be more than $1.14 billion. Our economic relations are now in an ascending mould.”

He said the support Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and President Asif Ali Zardari—who met in Islamabad last month—extended to mutual efforts to promote engagement in all areas of common interest including investments, agriculture, fishery, industry etc. would no doubt positively contribute to deepening of economic content in the relationship.