15 Jul 2019

Cook Islands and Indonesia start formalising diplomatic ties

4:03 pm on 15 July 2019

The Cook Islands prime minister says there's plenty on offer in the country's fledgling friendship with Indonesia.

Henry Puna

Henry Puna Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Johnny Blades

At the weekend in Auckland, Henry Puna signed a communique with Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi which provides the basis for a formal relationship between their two countries.

Mr Puna was among representatives of a range of Pacific Islands countries attending the Pacific Exposition culture and trade show hosted by Indonesia in New Zealand's largest city.

He says Jakarta's aim of boosting connectivity with Pacific Islands makes sense, and that's why his country is forging diplomatic links with Indonesia.

"Early next year we'll be graduating to a Developed Country Status, so we're looking to make new friends, and in a sense expand our circles of friends, because we have to think about new ways of doing business."

According to Mr Puna, about a hundred Indonesians currently working in the Cook Islands have contributed significantly to the country's hospitality sector.

"You know currently we have about a hundred Indonesians working in the Cook Islands, in Rarotonga. And, from the reports that I have from their employers, they are the best workers they've ever come across... and so there's plenty of scope."

It's just one of a number of fields in which he says the Cooks can benefit from what Indonesia has to offer.

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