Jakarta — Indonesia is seeking to enhance trade with India, eyeing especially the market of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, as the closest Indian region to the Southeast Asian country. As many as 50 business entities from the two countries along with local authorities explored potential trade, investment and economic cooperation between the two regions during the India-Indonesia Investment Forum held in Aceh on Monday (09/07), a press release from the Foreign Affairs Ministry stated on Tuesday. The forum was a follow up of the Shared India-Indonesia Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific initiated by President Joko Widodo and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Director General of Policy Department and Analysis Agency of the Foreign Affairs Ministry Siswo Pramono revealed that the distance between Aceh and Indira Point, the southernmost region of Andaman and Nicobar, was 125 kilometers. Meanwhile, the distance between Andaman and Nicobar and mainland India is 1,300 km. In fact, some 95 percent necessities in Andaman and Nicobar, an archipelago with 400,000 people, were imported from mainland India. “Hence, Andaman and Nicobar is a potential market to be developed soon,” Pramono noted. Moreover, the Indian government is eyeing to develop the Andaman and Nicobar islands as a tourism destination in the Indian Ocean. India has been developing various infrastructure in the Andaman and Nicobar. Thus, construction materials, logistics and supplies would be ideally brought from Aceh and not from the mainland. Ambassador of India to Indonesia Pradeep Kumar Rawat conveyed the need to build business connectivity between Sumatra and Andaman and Nicobar, with some potential cooperation in the fields of tourism, air and sea connectivity and hospital services. Director of Tourism of Andaman-Nicobar authority Amit Anand remarked that Aceh could serve as a gateway for tourists keen on visiting Andaman and Nicobar as well as to widen the limited market in the islands. In the absence of direct flights, the people of Andaman-Nicobar need to travel 3,000 km to arrive in Aceh, departing from Fort Blair to Chennai, then to Jakarta to reach Banda Aceh. The distance between Port Blair and Aceh is only 750 km. Statistics indicate that every year some 20,000 foreign tourists and 500,000 domestic tourists visit Andaman Nicobar. Hence, the Andaman-Nicobar Chamber of Commerce highlighted the market of its region to the Aceh administration.