ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Indonesia will sign amended preferential trade agreement (PTA) tomorrow (Friday) in Islamabad, which incorporated unilateral trade concessions granted by Indonesia on 20 items.

The Indonesian government recently unilaterally agreed to provide Pakistani products with deeper market access under the PTA. Both the countries would sign the unilateral concession granted by Indonesia on Friday during the visit of Indonesian President. Major exports items from Pakistan would include tobacco, textile fabric, rice, ethanol, citrus (kinnow), woven fabric, and mangoes.

The amended PTA would help in increasing volume of bilateral trade, which is currently around $2.4 billion. Pakistan and Indonesia signed the PTA in 2012, which came into operation in 2013. As a result, the bilateral trade witnessed a substantial increase but all in favour of Indonesia. Pakistan initiated a review of the PTA with Indonesia wherein besides making the agreement mutually beneficial, the issue of market access on rice was also taken up. As a result, the two countries signed an MoU, which envisaged sourcing of rice from Pakistan. Pakistan would export 65,000 tonnes of non-Basmati rice to Indonesia as part of the revised preferential trade agreement.

Last week, Indonesia floated a tender for procurement of 500,000 metric tons of rice out of which 84,000 metric tons were to be sourced from South Asia. The bids were finalised on 19th January and as a result the two companies from Pakistan secured an order for 65,000 metric tons of white rice, out of the 84,000 metric tons was allocated for South Asia. The rest was given to an Indian company.

Meanwhile, SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said that forthcoming state visit of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to Pakistan will open new vistas of opportunities to further cement bilateral relations, especially in economic sector, and enhance the existing trade volume between both countries.

“The recent economic rise of Indonesia is also an example for Pakistan to follow, especially because the two countries shared many similarities in their demographics and trade could cross mark of $5 billion annually comfortably from current $2.4 billion,” said vice president of SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Iftikhar Ali Malik in a statement. He said that the bilateral trade figures fairly indicate the economic relations between two countries but these can be even greater if Pakistan is given more access to Indonesian market. He further said youth from both countries should come forward and play a critical role in further developing the bilateral ties between the countries.