President Jacob Zuma and Mrs Bongi Zuma being welcomed on arrival by the Indonesian Minister of Trade, Mr Enggartiasto Lukta at the Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport in Jakarta. Picture: GCIS
Jakarta – President Jacob Zuma has arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia, to attend the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) business forum and leaders’ summit and a state visit at the invitation of Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the presidency said on Sunday. 

The IORA summit had been convened under the theme “Strengthening maritime co-operation for a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indian Ocean” to commemorate 20 years of the association’s existence, the presidency said in a statement. 

South Africa and Indonesia were both founding members of the IORA, which consisted of 21 coastal member states bordering the Indian Ocean, stretching from South Africa in the west, running up the eastern coast of Africa, along the Gulf to South and Southeast Asia, and ending with Australia in the east. Indonesia served as vice chair of the IORA from 2013 until 2015 and was the current chair. 

South Africa served as vice chair from 2015 and would assume the chair from October 2017 until 2019, the presidency statement said. The association’s current membership was the Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa, Somalia, Tanzania, Iran, Oman, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bangladesh, India, Sri-Lanka, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. 

The IORA was also supported by seven dialogue partners – China, Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The IORA had observer status at the United Nations and the African Union. "The Indian Ocean region’s population is home to nearly one-third of the world’s population and is of great economic significance due to its strategic location. 

Half of the world’s trade travels through this region. In addition, the ocean that binds the rim together possesses a variety of natural resources that are vital for the well-being of its inhabitants, safe trade, and environmental stability," the statement said. The IORA’s vast coastline held two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves, carried half of the world’s container ships and one-third of the bulk cargo traffic, and produced goods and services worth over US1 trillion, with intra-IORA trade amounting to about US777 billion. 

Zuma would use the opportunity to promote stronger economic co-operation within the IORA countries. South Africa also wanted to see enhanced interaction between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Association of South Eastern Asian Nations (ASEAN), to which many IORA countries belonged, in order to advance greater South-South co-operation as envisaged during the Bandung Conference in 1955, from which the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) emerged. 

During the state visit, Zuma would promote stronger ties with Indonesia in business, trade, and investment, as well as promote South Africa as a viable destination for Indonesian tourists, business, and investments. He would also promote investment in the country’s ocean economy, in key areas such as marine transport and manufacturing, offshore oil and gas exploration, aquaculture, agro-processing, mining and mineral beneficiation, renewable energy, finance, and tourism, the presidency said. 

South Africa’s major exports to Indonesia included chemical wood pulp, ferrous waste, iron ore, aluminium, apples, pears, and mechanical appliances. Indonesia’s main exports to South Africa included palm oil, rubber, coconut oil, automotives, original equipment components, ceramic wares, certain chemicals, and footwear. In recent times South African companies had explored opportunities for investment in Indonesia, including Sasol, Old Mutual, Sanlam, Denel, and the Paramount Group. 

Zuma was accompanied by Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana, and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, the presidency said.