By Ainur Rohmah
YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia (AA) - Indonesian and Turkish governments on Thursday agreed to start negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in November in an attempt to further strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries.
The agreement came following a meeting between Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Fikri Isik and Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita.
In July, President Joko Widodo and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan had agreed to continue the positive trend in trade and investment ties during a meeting in Turkish capital Ankara.
"We want to speed up talks in accordance with President Joko Widodo's commitment made during his visit to Turkey last July," Lukita said.
He told Anadolu Agency that a framework for cooperation was supposed to be made eight years ago, but it could only be realized now.
"In the early stages of the negotiations, we wanted to form a PTA [Preferential Trade Agreement]. Turkey government had also agreed," he said.
"To implement the FTA, it takes a long time of negotiations, so we can start with the CEPA first," Lukita Said.
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Fikri Isik said the two countries were focused on diversifying Turkish and Indonesian commercial ties.
"A roadmap has been made to achieve the trade target of $10 billion in 2023, as agreed by the leaders of both countries," Isik said.
The two countries expressed commitment to improving the trade volume, which was $1.7 billion last year, down by 9 percent from a year earlier.
"One of the substantial instruments to improve bilateral trade and economic relations between the two countries is through the signing of the CEPA agreement," he said.
- US visa action 'unacceptable'
Isik also invited Lukita to cooperate in the field of halal foods standardization between the two countries.
Both sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation in tourism sector.
In September, Indonesia and Turkey signed a defense and aerospace cooperation agreement to build submarines, tanks and unmanned aircraft.
Isik is scheduled to visit Aceh Province on Friday where he will meet local authorities, visit a tsunami museum and some boarding schools.
The deputy premier also made a statement on the recent visa row between the U.S. and Turkey.
“What the U.S. did was unacceptable. There is an allegation. The prosecution counsel is investigating a person who works for the embassy. It's unacceptable to make a visa issue out of this," he said.
The U.S. Embassy on Sunday announced the suspension of some visa processing for Turkish nationals following the arrest of a Turkish employee at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, prompting a tit-for-tat response from Ankara.
Metin Topuz, a long-standing consulate employee, was arrested last week over alleged ties to the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which is said to have orchestrated last year’s attempted coup in Turkey.
“Even though we have our differences on some topics, even though our policies are different, the U.S. and Turkey are strong allies,” Isik said.
“We work together at the NATO, we have to work together in many regional and global issues. Sustaining the issue with a country that we have strong bilateral relations with would not be right. Those who are impacted by this issue would definitely be the people of the Turkish side and American side.
“We want this issue resolved as soon as possible and we are working on this.”
*Kubra Chohan contributed to this report from Ankara