Abdul Khalik, The Jakarta Post - 2006-12-29 15:56:48
Jakarta, December 29, 2006 (The Jakarta Post) - Indonesia will start building a fish canning center in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, early next year, in an attempt to push its marine and fisheries products into the Middle Eastern market, an official says.
Marine Affairs and Fisheries Ministry secretary general Widi A. Pratikto said that the Middle Eastern markets had huge potential for Indonesian food and fish products and could become alternatives to traditional markets in the U.S., Europe and Japan.
"Jeddah is a city close to countries in both the Middle East and North Africa. It can become an entry point for our products to many countries there," he told The Jakarta Post during a workshop on developing cooperation in the marine and fisheries sector between Indonesia and the Middle East here Thursday.
"We hope that Indonesian businesspeople can seize this golden opportunity. We will help them if they are serious," he added.
Several companies, he said, had expressed interest in being involved in the construction of the canning center as well as becoming fish suppliers to the center.
Trade relations, including fish exports and imports, between Indonesia and the Middle East are still relatively minor compared to other regions. Indonesia's fish exports to Middle Eastern countries, for instance, constitute less than 5 percent of its total fish exports, US$2 billion this year.
"80 percent of our fish exports go to Japan, Europe and the U.S. That's why we're trying to open the market in the Middle East, to diversify our markets as well as lessen our dependence on the three markets," the ministry's director at the data, statistics and information center, Saut P. Hutagalung, said.
So far, he said, Indonesia had already signed memorandums of understanding on marine and fisheries cooperation with Algeria and Iran.
"We hope we can immediately sign bilateral memorandums of understanding in marine and fisheries with Egypt and other countries in Africa, such Somalia and Mozambique. Many of our businesspeople have expressed interests in catching fish in African waters," Saut said.