By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname — The fifth Joint Council Commission between Indonesia and Suriname took place in Paramaribo on September 17-18 and the objective was to “recommit to strengthen cooperation that can translate into concrete results” between the two countries. The session was opened by the minister of foreign affairs of Suriname, Yldiz Pollack-Beighle.
The population of Suriname consists of about 20 percent people of Indonesian background and whose ancestors came to Suriname during the Dutch colonial period as indentured servants to grow sugar and coffee.
Ironically, Paramaribo is yet to appoint an ambassador to Jakarta and that post has been left vacant for some time, especially to the dismay of the Indonesian community in Suriname, and private sector businesses and entrepreneurs. Also, the planned historic visit to Suriname by the foreign minister of Indonesia, Retno Marsudi, has not yet materialized.
Both countries committed to enhance cooperation in the field of economics in towards complete free trade agreement. They also stressed actions and results especially in the areas of economic and technical cooperation. They plan to enhance mutual exchange of information in the field of infrastructure and investment and to identify areas of technical cooperation.
Indonesia will help in capacity building for Suriname in the field of processing of agricultural products, the development of aquaculture, and eco-tourism.
Indonesia plans to seal a free trade agreement between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) by utilizing Suriname as a hub
The commission called for the signing of a letter of commitment between Indonesia, Suriname and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) in the field of reverse linkage for artificial insemination of livestock for Suriname.
They also called for the cooperation between commercial banks in Suriname and in Indonesia in the development of Islamic banking in Suriname. Suriname is now entering into the business of Islamic banking and has opened one such bank, Amnah Trust Bank, the first in the region.
These are some examples of South-South cooperation (SSC), which former Suriname diplomat to the UN, Henry MacDonald, supports.
MacDonald said, “This all is happening in line with South-South cooperation. South-South cooperation is a new paradigm and concept used by policymakers and academics to describe the exchange of all resources (including financial), technology, and knowledge between developing countries.”
The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding between the University of Diponegoro University and Anton de Kom in Suriname regarding cooperation in conservation of mangrove and of processing industry; and a related memorandum of understanding of cooperation education and diplomatic training was concluded.
Due to past neglect, both countries plan to revitalize the historical and cultural attachment between Indonesia with Suriname, and plan to set up a “Diaspora Institute”, an initiative by Suriname for the Javanese community there
The delegation of Indonesia was led by the director-general of the USA and Europe, ministry of foreign affairs (KEMLU), Ambassador Muhammad Anshor, and included other top ranking officials from Jakarta.
The Surinamese delegation was led by the permanent secretary for geopolitical affairs and international development cooperation in the ministry of foreign affairs of Suriname, Miriam Mcintosh.
Suriname has recently received a number of high level visits from various parts of the world.
“Visits by new global players as Indonesia, Turkey, China, India, Brazil and soon countries like the UAE, Iran, South Africa, the Gulf States and others to our shores should be seen in line with SSC,” MacDonald said.
“The traditional development structure between the colonisers and their former colonies (North-South cooperation) is now being supplemented by South-South cooperation,” he added.