Maroc – Indonesia and South Africa will leave the bloc in 2019, with Indonesia to join the European Union by 2020, as part of a bid to improve ties with China.
The two nations, whose leaders have been at loggerheads over the past few years over the South African presidency, have been negotiating for a free trade agreement for more than two years.
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo and South African President Jacob Zuma were due to meet for the first time since the South Africa election.
« Indonesian Prime Minister Joko’s meeting with South African Prime Minister Jacob Zulu will be a landmark event in the evolution of our bilateral relationship and in the strengthening of ties between South Africa, Indonesia and Australia, » Indonesian Prime Minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said in a statement on Wednesday.
South Africa has been at odds with Indonesia since last year over the leadership of President Jokowi, who has led the country since taking office in January last year.
In December last year, South Africa demanded a trade deal with Indonesia after Jakarta threatened to pull out of a $2 billion investment in the South Asian country, which it sees as a security threat.
Zuma was due to address the South Africans in parliament on Wednesday afternoon, but has cancelled the meeting due to the outbreak of the pandemic.
Earlier this month, South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said that Zuma was not likely to attend a meeting with the South Korean president because the two countries were on different paths.
However, he did say that Zulu would not be attending the South-Africa summit in 2018, due to an issue related to the presidency of President Banda, who is currently in hospital recovering from a heart attack.
(Reporting by Jochen van den Bergh; Editing by James Dalgleish)