Indonesia, NZ Must Update Economic Perceptions: Clark

JAKARTA ~ New Zealand and Indonesia must update their economic perceptions of each other in order to boost trade, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said during a visit here this week.

Clark, who is on a three-day trip, said after meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday that although Indonesia was a significant trading partner, the two countries’ “trade profile has not changed in the past 20 years.”

“We need to update the perceptions of both New Zealand and Indonesian business about the state of each other’s economies. We’re probably in something of a time warp in ways that we see each other,” the prime minister said.

Yudhoyono said that Indonesia was New Zealand’s biggest export destination in the region and that trade volume between the two nations had increased the past five years by an average of 23 percent each year.

In 2006 trade value reached US$654 million, he said.

The two leaders witnessed the signing of several cooperation agreements, including on border control and money laundering.

Clark said the two countries’ “relationship has a lot of momentum, and is heading in the right direction.”

“Fundamental importance in the step-up has been Indonesia’s transition towards democracy and we’re finding now on so many issues, internationally and regionally, we’re approaching them in a shared outlook,” she told reporters.

During her visit, Clark was to give talks at universities in Jakarta and Yogyakarta.

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