Jakarta to swap coffee for jets

Indonesia says it will exchange coffee, palm oil and other goods for 11 Russian Sukhoi fighter jets, calling US and European sanctions against Moscow an opportunity to boost bilateral trade.

Indonesian Ministry of Trade spokesman Marolop Nainggolan said a bartering deal was signed with Moscow between the state-owned pair of Russia’s Rostec and Perusahaan Perdagangan Indonesia.

Russia is facing a deeper set of US-imposed trade sanctions, while Indonesia is trying to promote its palm-oil products amid threats of a cut in consumption by the European Union.

Jakarta’s Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita said coffee, tea, palm oil and defence equipment would be exchanged for the Sukhoi Su-35 fighters.

Indonesia has 16 Sukhoi jets with the first bought in 2003 while a US embargo on arms sales was imposed due to the military’s human-rights record.

The planes are expected to arrive in Indonesia next year.

They are set to replace F5 E/F Tiger II warplanes, which have been in service since the 1980s, according to China’s Xinhua agency.

The Su-35 boasts high manoeuvrability with a high angle of attack and high-capability weaponry that contribute to the aircraft’s dogfighting capability.

Bilateral trade between Russia and Indonesia has fallen heavily since 2012, but Lukita said western financial and trade sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime were an opportunity for Indonesia to revive trade through barter deals. According to Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, bilateral trade with Indonesia increased by 14 per cent in the first five months of this year.

“This is an opportunity that should not be lost from our grasp,” Lukita said.

Rostec said in a statement: “The Russian party will have the right to choose Indonesian goods and manufacturers to act as trading partners. The agreement is structured to promote exports of advanced goods produced by Indonesian companies to Russia.”

Viktor Kladov, Rostec’s international director, said: “We believe that the signing of the agreement will further expand military and technical co-operation with Indonesia and improve trade relations between our two countries.”

Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-35. Picture credit: Wikimedia