REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, NADI -- Indonesia is committed to boosting connectivity with the South Pacific region in order to overcome the challenge of distance, stated President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
"Better connectivity will help enhance interaction among our people. Therefore, Indonesia had involved the Pacific Island countries in the discussion on connectivity within APEC during Indonesia's chairmanship last year," Yudhoyono noted while delivering his keynote address during the Second Summit of the Pacific Islands Development Forum here on Thursday.
The head of state pointed out that the Indonesian government has also promoted the participation of business communities in strengthening air and sea links. Last year, direct flights were started between Port Moresby and Denpasar, Bali.
"It was a calculated business risk that has paid off in terms of benefits and profits. I understand that the service will undergo further expansion," he added.
Indonesia is also committed to intensifying economic ties with the PIDF countries, particularly in the areas of trade and investment. The two-way trade in 2013 reached US$318 million.
"We can do much better than that as there are many untapped potential areas. We should aim to triple that amount to US$1 billion in the coming years," he stated.
Yudhoyono emphasized the need to provide special prominence to small and medium enterprises and to consider building sub-regional links in order to help achieve greater common economic progress.
Based on the experiences gained in the ASEAN, such a sub-regional arrangement is helpful in pooling resources, based on complementarity.
"Indonesia is committed to capitalize on its enhanced links with the PIDF countries," he reiterated.
In recent years, Indonesia has established diplomatic relations with almost all Pacific Island countries.
"We build these relations on the basis of equality, mutual respect for each other's sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity," he stressed.
Yudhoyono added that as Indonesia lies in both the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean, it is in the best interests of the country to bridge the Pacific region with the Indian Ocean and also with the East Asian parts of the larger region.
"By doing so, I believe that we can make this geographical bridging truly Asia-Pacific. And in this spirit, Indonesia strongly supports Papua New Guinea as the host and chair of APEC in 2018," the president remarked.