Indonesia will strive for 'reciprocal' visa-free policies

Indonesia will strive for 'reciprocal' visa-free policies
Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi.

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said Indonesia would strive to ensure that the recently proposed visa-free policy for 30 countries could be made reciprocal.

"It is unlikely that the implementation of the visa-free policies for all 30 countries could be reciprocal at once; but we will strive [toward that aim]," she said as quoted by Antara at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Retno said the government's decision to provide visa exemptions to 30 new countries had been calculated with regard to various aspects. The security issue had also been considered so that the policy would not 'boomerang' on Indonesia.

"I think the government's decision to provide visa exemptions for 30 countries has been calculated with the security factor in mind. Our main purpose is to attract more tourists," she said.

With the additional 30 countries, Indonesia currently provides visa exemptions to 45 countries in various continents. The visa exemption is part of the first stage of the government's economic structural reform package.

Earlier, the government proposed visa exemptions for four countries Indonesia considered as its prime tourism markets, namely China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.

During the meetings on the economic stimulus package, the number of visa exemption beneficiaries was increased to 25 countries. Shortly after that, the government announced that it had increased the visa exemption beneficiaries to 30; bringing the total number of receivers to 45 as previously 15 countries had enjoyed visa-free facilities.

Previously, visa-free facilities were provided for tourists from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, the Philippines, Hong Kong Special Administration Region, Macau Special Administration Region, Chile, Morocco, Peru, Vietnam, Ecuador, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

The visa exemptions are aimed at increasing the number of tourists visiting Indonesia to 10 million this year. The visa exemption is one of four main regulations, the others being on biofuel use, anti-dumping import duties and reinsurance operations of state-owned enterprises, issued to both increase Indonesia's foreign exchange reserves and improve the country's trade balance, and thereby narrow the current account deficit.

The government says the current account deficit, which has continued to widen, is an internal problem that it must deal with as it is having a negative impact on the rupiah's exchange rate. With a better controlled deficit, Indonesia's economic fundamentals should be maintained and not be overly susceptible to global economic pressure.

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