JAKARTA: Indonesian businesses are optimistic that a newly established Saudi-Indonesia task force will open up collaborations between Jakarta and Riyadh, Indonesia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry said on Monday following a meeting in Riyadh.

Saudi-Indonesian trade has been increasing on average by around 5 percent annually between 2018 and 2022, according to data from the Ministry of Trade. Bilateral trade was valued at $7.51 billion last year, a 35 percent rise in 2021.

On Oct. 19, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN) co-hosted the Saudi-Indonesian Roundtable Meeting with the Federation of Saudi Chambers on the sidelines of President Joko Widodo’s state visit to the Kingdom, which was attended by the Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih and the Indonesian Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan.

Mohamad Bawazeer, who heads KADIN’s Middle East committee, told Arab News that KADIN and FSC officials had signed an initial cooperation agreement during the event which covered the establishment of a joint task force.

He said: “The MoU (memorandum of understanding) includes an important aspect, which is to form a joint task force that will take on the next steps. Saudi Arabia will appoint several people from its government and chamber of commerce, and so will we.”

Bawazeer added: “The meeting turned out positive. If this task force goes well, we have faith that it will … I’m very much supportive of this, and now it’s just about how to accelerate and how to execute our cooperation.”

The initiative was welcomed by Al-Falih and Hasan, Bawazeer said, adding that there was a match between Indonesia’s wealth across different sectors and Saudi Arabia’s “extraordinary openness.”

He noted that the first meeting of the joint task force would take place “very soon.”

“We have to admit that Saudi Arabia is an economic and political powerhouse in the Middle East region, and the opportunities in Saudi Arabia are huge,” he said. “This is something that we still have to explore.”