JAKARTA: Indonesia is seeking easier access to Saudi Arabia for its food exports in order to capitalize on potential for export.
In April, the Indonesian Food and Drug Agency conducted a high-level meeting with the Saudi Food and Drug Authority in Riyadh, where it agreed to deepen collaboration and grow trade in food and medicines between the two nations.
“With a smoother regulatory process and ease of access, Indonesian food firms can expand their market share to Saudi Arabia,” said the Indonesian Food and Drug Agency, also known by its local abbreviation BPOM.
“This can boost economic growth in the two countries and increase economic cooperation between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia,” according to BPOM.
The discussion in Riyadh was convened by BPOM President Penny K. Lukito and SFDA CEO Hisham bin Saad Al-Jadhey as part of a visit aimed at improving access to Indonesian food goods.
Lukito’s visit follows a January trade mission led by Indonesian Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan, who met with Al-Jadhey in an effort to increase Indonesian food exports to the Kingdom.
“Indonesian food products have a huge export potential to Saudi Arabia, especially given Indonesian umrah and Hajj pilgrims’ large share of the market,” BPOM added.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of Indonesian pilgrims come to Saudi Arabia. This year, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country has been given 221,000 Hajj pilgrim quotas, with an additional 675,000 Umrah pilgrims expected.
This group alone provides a captive market for Indonesian food items, according to BPOM, as it seeks to expand into the Kingdom’s bigger consumer market.
“In addition to Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, there are Saudi local citizens and diaspora who are potential consumers of Indonesian food products,” according to the agency.
Lukito also recommended a mutual recognition agreement between the two agencies during her discussion with Al-Jadhey.
According to BPOM, its Saudi counterpart is expected to undertake an on-site inspection visit to Indonesia in the near future, which will create the groundwork for the planned arrangement.
“The BPOM and the SFDA have agreed to continue strengthening their cooperation and to advocate for expanded trade in medicine and food between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.”