Political stability in the new democracy may be further strengthened with the upcoming parliamentary and provincial election, set to take place in November.

Indonesia and Nepal formally established diplomatic relations back in 1960, and were both founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Bilateral relations between the two countries have had a particular focus on trade, as Indonesia is one of Nepal’s largest trading partners and was its fourth largest exporter in 2016.

Their cooperation has also been further strengthened in the strategic industry sector, as the Army of Nepal purchased a military transport aircraft earlier this year from local aerospace company Dirgantara Indonesia.

Bally Saputra Datuk Janosati has been appointed as Nepal’s honorary consul in Jakarta, and said he plans to bring dozens of Indonesian businessmen to Nepal in November for a business forum with their Nepalese counterparts.

“We will increase good relations between Nepal and Indonesia, especially in several sectors [such as] trade, tourism, and industries,” Bally said.

Bally added that Nepal’s Himalaya Airlines and Indonesia’s Garuda Indonesia are currently in negotiations to open direct flights from Kathmandu to Jakarta, as well as from Kathmandu to Yogyakarta, as part of efforts to increase tourism and cultural and religious exchanges.

Furthermore, Basnyat said the Nepalese government is also proposing a sister city program between Magelang and Lumbini to increase visits to Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

“We are targeting the site of Buddhist pilgrimages and aim to have as many as five million tourists from around the world visiting Lumbini and [other parts of] Nepal,” Bally said.

According to Buddhist tradition, Lumbini is the birthplace of the Buddha. Attracting more tourists to the Buddhist pilgrimage site, Bally said, may increase its potential to draw tourists similar to the Islamic holy city of Mecca.

During the consulate-general office’s inauguration in Menara Hijau, South Jakarta, Basnyat told reporters that Jakarta and Kathmandu share a similarity, as both cities are headquarter locations of regional blocs – the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) – that Indonesia and Nepal respectively belong to.

SAARC’s members include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Basnyat added that establishing Nepal’s consulate-general office in Jakarta may pave the way for more cooperation between the two blocs.

Noting Indonesia’s growing economic potential and influence in Southeast Asian, Basnyat also said that he will seek to recommend the establishment of a formal Nepalese embassy in Jakarta over the next few years as it is “an important place in the world economy.”

Courtesy of Jakarta Globe