The forum, which will be held for the third time in October 2021, aims to improve economic relations in the midst of a dynamic global situation, including the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, director general of America and Europe at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I Gede Ngurah Swajaya, said at a virtual press conference on Monday.
"As a country with the highest economy in Southeast Asia, Indonesia has the potential to take advantage of the economy in Latin America and the Caribbean," Swajaya added.
The potential of the Latin America region, whose gross domestic product (GDP) has reached US$4.8 trillion (about Rp68,397 trillion), and Indonesia, whose GDP has been recorded at more than US$1 trillion (about Rp14,251 trillion), must be utilized optimally through various proactive economic diplomacy initiatives, he said.
"There is a challenge geographically, but from the trade value recorded so far, even in the midst of COVID-19, we see an increase in Indonesia's exports," he added.
In 2020, total trade between Indonesia with Latin America and the Caribbean region increased to US$8.25 billion (around Rp117.6 trillion) from US$ 7.75 billion (around Rp110.4 trillion) in 2019, Swajaya informed.
In the first half of 2021, the total trade between Indonesia and the region reached US$4.91 billion (almost Rp70 trillion), an increase of 13.83 percent from the same period the previous year, he said.
The three countries recorded to have the highest value trade with Indonesia are Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico, he disclosed.
In 2020, the value of Indonesia's exports to Latin America and the Caribbean stood at US$3.16 billion (around Rp45 trillion), while imports were pegged at US$5.1 billion (around Rp72.7 trillion), Swajaya said.
Indonesia's main exports to Latin America and the Caribbean are vegetable oils, vehicles, electronics, rubber, and footwear. Meanwhile, its main imports are animal feed, cereals, sugar, cotton, and chocolate.
As the pandemic is still limiting movement across countries, the INA-LAC 2021 will be held jointly through face-to-face and virtual meetings, Swajaya said.
However, the number of participants will actually increase compared to the face-to-face implementation, he added.
In 2019, INA-LAC was attended by 120 participants from 18 Latin American and Caribbean countries and 150 participants from Indonesia, with total business agreements reaching US$33.12 million (around Rp463.68 billion).
In 2020, a total of 533 participants consisting of 490 virtual participants and 63 physical participants, took part in the business forum. INA-LAC 2020 recorded total business deals of US$85.38 million (around Rp. 1.2 trillion).
This year, around 350 Indonesian companies and 150 Latin American and Caribbean companies have registered for INA-LAC 2021, Swajaya said.
At the forum, participants will be able to interact with each other via the ina-access.com digital platform, which will be specially set up for virtual trade, investment, and tourism exhibitions, he added.
“INA-LAC is one of our flagship events. Hopefully, through this activity, we can show that the Indonesian government's economic diplomacy is still being carried out proactively," said Swajaya.