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East Asia, Latin America eye tourism, environment

With the two regions’ great potential in cultural heritage and environmental concerns, East Asia and Latin America will be exploring the vast possibilities to enhance cooperation in the tourism and environment sectors in the upcoming 6th Foreign Ministers Meeting of the Forum for East Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) in Bali on June 13-June 14.

“Our two regions have a lot to offer in the tourism sector, in which we need to forge stronger cooperation,” the Foreign Ministry’s director general for America and Europe Dian Triansyah Djani, told Bali Daily on Monday.

“Latin America is very advanced in terms of promoting their cultural heritage tourism,” said Dian Triansyah. 

He pointed out how Latin America’s ancient temple heritage from the Inca, Mayan and Aztec civilizations displayed similarities with the rich cultural heritage possessed by East Asian countries, including Indonesia’s Borobudur temple, China’s Temple of Heaven, Cambodia’s Angkot Wat, Myanmar’s Shwedagon Pagoda and many others.

“The tourism experts of both regions are now gathering to discuss forms of cooperation that can be encouraged,” he said.

Dian Triansyah highlighted not only tourism but also FEALAC’s great potential in environmental cooperation.

“Around 57 per cent of the world’s tropical forests are in FEALAC regions. Indonesia and Brazil are the lungs of the world. Many of our members are major promoters of environmental issues, thus we can enhance cooperation in eco-tourism, environmental protection and sustainable development, among other things,” said Dian Triansyah.

FEALAC has 36 members, comprising 16 East Asian and 20 Latin American countries, which if combined comprise 40 per cent of the world’s population.

He praised the robust economic growth of the two regions, a strong reason for closer cooperation. “We are the two regions with an average above 5 per cent for economic growth in the past several years, despite the global financial crisis. So, this is the time to enhance our cooperation,” said Dian.

In the past three years, Indonesia itself has doubled its trading value with Latin America, recording almost US$245 million in trade in 2012, up from $128 million in 2010.

Dian Triansyah was speaking on the sidelines of a bilateral meeting with the Colombian deputy minister of foreign affairs, Monica Lanzetta Mutis, and the Colombian ambassador to Indonesia, Alfonso Garzon Mendez, on Monday. During the meeting, both countries also signed an agreement on visa exemption for service and diplomatic passports.

Indonesia and Colombia, co-chairs of the sixth FEALAC ministerial meeting, tied diplomatic relations in 1980 and have since then cooperated in countering drug trafficking, law enforcement, as well as trade and investment.

The first FEALAC ministerial meeting was held in 2001 in Chile. FEALAC remains the sole platform for governmental cooperation between East Asia and Latin America. In 2011, the two regions accounted for $267 billion in trade.

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