Indonesia And India: The Maritime Connect:Created On: 04-07-2018,11:32 AM
The Prime Minister paid his first official visit to Indonesia on 29-30 May, 2018. His visit to Indonesia was a part of his five-day, three-nation visit to Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia -- through which he aims to boost the Act East Policy and strengthen ties with the ASEAN countries.
• Development of a naval port in Sabang by India and Indonesia, which will be on the tip of Sumatra Island and at the entrance of Malacca Straits
• Improve the defence and maritime cooperation, with an agreement to collaborate their national maritime policies- India’s Indo-Pacific policy with Indonesia’s policy of ‘global maritime fulcrum’.
Strategic Importance of Sabang
• The Sabang arrangement will fix a new strategic partnership in the Indian Ocean: Sabang lines the Northern end of the Malacca Strait, which is marked by important sea lanes for the movement of goods.
• According to the 2016 data, 16 million barrels of crude oil and other petroleum products moved in the Strait daily.
• The Northern end of the Strait, where Sabang is located, is the widest, the Southern part of Strait being just 1.5 nautical miles at points.
• Indian Navy would be granted a well-positioned logistics and resupply node to support operations in the eastern Indian Ocean and the Malacca Strait with the aid of the port. In particular, the Sabang port is also expected to boost the Indian Navy’s capacity to react to humanitarian emergencies, make available disaster relief, and regulate anti-piracy patrols.
The Prime Minister declared a 30-day free visa for Indonesian citizens and invited the diaspora to visit their country of origin to experience the ‘New India’.
• India and Indonesia agreed to multiply their efforts to enhance bilateral trade to $50 billion by 2025.
• According to Indonesia’s Central Statistics Agency (BPS), trade between the two nations in 2016 was $12.9 billion. It increased 28.7 % to $18.13 billion in 2017 with Indonesia’s exports to India reaching $14.08 billion and its imports from India at $ 4.05 billion.
Signing of Two Major Agreements
India and Indonesia signed two crucial agreements on defence and space, 13 MoUs on trade, culture, archaeology, etc.
Significance of the Visit
Strategic Partner: India views Indonesia, the largest country in Southeast Asia, as a strategic partner that shares a maritime boundary with India.
Significant Pivot: Indonesia is not only the most populous country in the region, with the largest Muslim population in the world; it has also immense natural resources and a strategic location, for it controls all or part of the very major waterway between the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. More than half of the world’s shipping traverses these waterways.
Maritime Cooperation: An uptick in India-Indonesia relations will be a development for both Indonesia and India, who through their respective ‘Global Maritime Fulcrum’ and ‘Act East’ policies have envisioned definite maritime collaboration in the region.
Countering China: India and Indonesia share many issues common to both the countries, out of which one is China’s increasing maritime footprint in eastern Indian Ocean. Sabang along with its naval base, naval air station, and maintenance and repair facilities, is capable to become the focal point of a growing strategic partnership between the two countries.
Ideational cooperation: Both Indonesia and India are not only multi-religious but also multi-cultural and face the challenge of integrating their diverse and plural societies from primordial loyalties to civic loyalties and creating a sense of citizenship within a democratic framework through state motto of ‘Bhineka Tunggal Eka’ and ‘Unity in Diversity’.
The Strait of Malacca: It is a narrow, 550 mi (890 km) stretch of water between the Malay Peninsula (Peninsular Malaysia) and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It has been named after the Malacca Sultanate that ruled over the archipelago between 1400 and 1511.
• On May 4, Indonesia officially launched the 2018 iteration of its biennial multilateral naval exercise Komodo (MNEK). The drills, featured participants from neighbouring Southeast Asian countries’s major powers such as China and India.
• Komodo 2018 was hosted from May 4 to May 9 in Lombok Island and nearby waters with a focus on cooperation to respond to disasters and humanitarian crises.
Global Maritime Fulcrum (GMF)
In 2014, Indonesia announced its grand maritime vision, the Global Maritime Fulcrum (GMF). Indonesia has pledged to capitalize on its geographical position to make it a “fulcrum” of Indo-Pacific maritime activity.
There are two dimensions to the GMF: the strategic and economic:
• The strategic dimension envisions the Indonesian Navy as regional maritime power.
• In the economic sector, Indonesia envisions a more interconnected country. By pledging to develop ports, fisheries, and shipping, it hopes to decrease the development gap between the main and outer islands.
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