Country focus |

Ambassador's Highlights

Country Focus | 7 December 2016

Each month, NOW! Jakarta has a Country Focus in the magazine. In this section, we highlight the relations between Indonesia and the chosen country, on a political, economic and cultural level.

Ambassador's Highlights (8)

Our Ambassador interviews are among the most-read stories of the magazine. You can find some interview highlights from our Ambassador interviews in 2016 on the following pages. Some of the Ambassadors have since been relocated, including H.E. Donald Bobiash and H.E. Robert O. Blake. H.E. MR. PAUL GRIGSON, Ambassador of Australia to Indonesia

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I think Indonesia and Australia have quite a lot in common, and in terms of partnerships, we have been working together in so many aspects, but the most significant, I think, is a trade of people. Australia is a top destination for Indonesian students to pursue their study, and over a million tourists from Australia flock to Indonesia. There are many other partnerships on the business front, cultural exchange and even on the security front, but I think that knowledge of each other’s countries that we gain through people is the most important element of the relationship. Our partnerships and cooperation ranges with everything from regional security matters to business to culture and we do have moments that we don’t agree but in comparison to the majority of work and partnerships that we’ve done together to help each other I think the problems we have had in the past are already overshadowed with the good partnership that we have had over the years. H.E. DR. TREVOR MATHESON, Ambassador of New Zealand to Indonesia

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There is a good level of responsibility and trust in the Indonesia-New Zealand relationship, it’s unproblematic in many ways, not many issues which give sleepless nights. Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi calls it ‘warm and cordial’, but neither Jakarta or Wellington want to keep it at this level, both want to develop it, make a quantum leap, and become more strategic. In my view, people-to-people links are at the core of a strong bilateral relationship, and I would like to see stronger and more personal connections developed between key members of government, business and cultural sectors in both Indonesia and New Zealand.  I have always thought that diplomacy is at its most effective when conducted between key individuals for the benefit of their respective countries. Having strong connections allows us the latitude to have honest and frank conversations on areas of mutual interest and importance. I’d like to establish a greater profile for NZ in Indonesia and I’d like to harness and muster the New Zealand expatriate community (KEA). I’d like to improve relations with NZ Alumni, talented Indonesians who have been to NZ to develop skills and want to help. Of course a key objective is to ensure our citizens are safe here and for that we have Honorary Consuls in Surabaya and Bali to help. Behind all that, I want to develop closer relationships with the government and decision makers, and to continue to develop knowledge and love of this wonderful country. H.E. DONALD BOBIASH, Ambassador of Canada to Indonesia

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The relationship between the two countries is very strong because – perhaps not a lot of people know this – Canada played a crucial role in helping Indonesia get international recognition. In 1948, the Canadian Ambassador on the U.N Security Council, General Andrew McNaughton, helped put through a resolution recognizing Indonesian sovereignty and independence. General McNaughton was posthumously honoured by Indonesia for his contributions. Canada and Indonesia also have a lot in common, we’re both very large countries with very different ethnic origins and backgrounds. There is a lot of diversity of cultures in both our countries. In terms of trade, the relationship between Canada and Indonesia is a success story. In the last five years our exports to Indonesia have doubled, and Indonesia is by far our largest bilateral market export in South-East Asia with the total volume of trade, last year, approximately 3.5 billion dollars. The diversity of our trade sector with Indonesia is amazing with big Canadian companies like Manulife and Sunlife, being two of the most prominent insurance companies in Indonesia. In the field of national resources, we have Husky Energy and of course most Indonesians will recognize Blackberry, of which Indonesia is one the largest markets. Our two countries are very optimistic about what we can achieve in the future, and we hope to secure an Investment Protection Agreement that is important for Canadian investors in Indonesia, while we are trying to bring more Canadian businesses to Indonesia. And with the state that we are currently in, and the communication between the heads of the two countries going well, things look optimistic. H.E. YVONNE BAUMANN, Ambassador of Switzerland to Indonesia

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Switzerland and Indonesia enjoy excellent long-standing relations. It is remarkable that Switzerland, as a land-locked country in the heart of Europe, had already opened a consulate in Batavia in 1863. The first official representation in Jakarta after the independence of Indonesia was opened in 1952. For decades, Switzerland was engaged in a wide range of development cooperation activities in Indonesia, particularly in the field of vocational education. Many polytechnics, teacher education and tourism schools were founded with Swiss support. Indonesia is currently one of eight priority countries for economic development cooperation which basically focuses on supporting Indonesia in its efforts to become more competitive, for instance in the promotion of sustainable tourism or sustainable agricultural production, as well as promoting Indonesian exports to Europe. Trade and investment relations between our two countries are growing. Dialogue between the two governments on different levels and topics has intensified. We established a joint economic and trade commission in 2009, and two years later, Switzerland and Indonesia agreed to engage in political consultations on a regular basis. Over the years, more and more Swiss tourists have come to Indonesia to enjoy the beautiful places this great country offers, not only in Bali. Furthermore, there are currently around 1300 Swiss citizens living in Indonesia. H.E. ROB SWARTBOL, Ambassador of The Netherlands to Indonesia

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I clearly see a forward looking attitude both in The Netherlands and here in Indonesia. I strongly believe in equity and equality in a relationship, and that was not always the case in the past. There are many things we have to offer each other; in the economic field, but also in education, culture and people-to-people contacts. Obviously, there is a shared past, it is something we should not ignore or forget. And sometimes it brings extra dynamics in the relationship. But both countries value each other on their own merits, and that is a great basis for a strong and longstanding partnership. The Netherlands has consistently been the biggest European investor in Indonesia, and we are always in the global top five together with regional powers like Singapore and Japan.  One of the advantages for Indonesia is that most Dutch companies are here for the long haul, with local ownership and employment as important spin offs. The Dutch are not just interested in turn key projects, but primarily in knowledge-sharing and partnering with local companies. We are very fortunate to have the ‘Erasmus Huis’ in Jakarta, a cultural institute with a big concert hall and exhibition rooms. Our cultural team brings innovative performers and artists to Indonesia and we always ask them to interact with Indonesian counterparts.  In Indonesia, culture matters. It is embedded in society and in the genes of the people. We like to echo that sentiment. Where two cultures meet, something special always happens. H.E. PATRICK HERMAN, Ambassador of Belgium to Indonesia

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We have a very good relationship with Indonesia since 1949, celebrating 65 years in 2014. Belgium was one of three countries who were party to the international settlement treaty talks on the USS Renville, so can claim a significant role in Indonesia’s history. There has been an Indonesian Embassy in Belgium since 1949 as well and an Embassy to the EU in the 1960’s but now they are combined. Both countries are members of the Brussels-based World Customs Organisation. We really haven’t had any difficult times, its been smooth and friendly for 67 years. We are still looking in the archives for bi-lateral problems! Yes, there were market access issues, tariff issues, customs issues and agriculture issues but we but we can solve them slowly. One example is the policy on palm oil labeling which the industry here sees as unfriendly and unnecessary. Palm oil is an important industry both downstream and upstream for us, not only because of our chocolate and biscuit industries, but also as some pre-1945 plantations in Indonesia are still Belgian owned today. H.E. TAIYOUNG CHO, Ambassador of South Korea to Indonesia

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We attach great importance to the relationship with Indonesia, we have a large volume of bilateral trade, with South Korea importing oil, gas, coal and rubber from Indonesia and Indonesia is a major market for us with around 2,200 Korean companies operating here. We really want to cooperate in every area but of course, that is too ambitious! Trade is important to both people’s welfare, but due to the plummeting values of commodities bilateral trade dropped from US$30 billion to only US$17 billion last year. The volume remained but the nominal value dropped. The two presidents agreed in their meeting to push up the bilateral trade. On the investment sides, Indonesia is seeking more investment from South Korea, even though we are already the 3rd or 4th largest investor here. But I have to say more and more South Korea companies want to start their business in Indonesia. H.E. ROBERT O. BLAKE, Ambassador of The United States to Indonesia

Ambassador's Highlights (7)

Like any country including my own, Indonesia’s ability to compete in today’s globalized world rests on its students getting the best possible education and training. Indonesia must upgrade its education capacity and particularly quality at all levels so its young people can reach their full potential. Efforts to control corruption and promote good governance need new momentum. Institutions like the KPK should be given higher budgets so they can hire more staff. The political party system would benefit from reforms so that elected representatives are responsible and more responsive to the needs of their constituents than to party leaders. One hallmark of strong democracies is their defense of minority rights. Although I am convinced that the majority of Indonesians are committed to tolerance and diversity, incidents of intolerance against minority groups, including religious groups that are not one of the six recognized religions, and LGBT people, appear to be taking place more frequently. H.E. MOAZZAM MALIK, Ambassador of The United Kingdom to Indonesia

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Indonesia, along with India and China, will be a country that shapes the 21st century. A big theme for me is to find ways to encourage Indonesia to be more open and more internationally active. Along with size and potential comes responsibility, and international problems cannot be solved by the west alone, so the big countries need to come forward and take responsibility. At the Paris climate change talks, Indonesia was much more progressive than people expected. In London the President’s stance on tolerance was also much stronger than expected. Indonesia’s ambitions on rising up the WB “Ease of Doing Business” Rankings are also much more ambitious than expected. In Brussels the President said he hoped the UK will stay in Europe; showing a readiness to take a position on a major international issue as a G20 leader. Indonesia is still learning and testing what its position in the world should be. Given our future, bilaterally and multilaterally, depends on our relationship with the big Asian countries, we really need to be an active partner to help Indonesia achieve its potential politically and economically. H.E. TANIZAKI YASUAKI, Ambassador of Japan to Indonesia

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Indonesia is crucial to Japan and we also believe that Japanese investment plays an important role to the Indonesian economy. Japanese investment is very unique and advantageous for Indonesia, as we’ve been creating huge job opportunities here through the manufacturing industry. This is also supported by official figures provided by the Investment Coordinating Board of the Republic of Indonesia (BKPM), which showed that Japanese companies in Indonesia have provided employment for more than 110,000 people. And although Japanese businessmen occupy top management levels in most companies, a lot of them employ staff and engineers from Indonesia, which means they can transfer the technology to be adapted in Indonesia, so there is knowledge and skill exchange between the two nations. If we look back at the economic relations and development between Japan and Indonesia, the first (and main) industry we are concentrating on are mining and manufacturing. Nevertheless, Japanese investment has been shifting to new industries lately. Interestingly, we are entering a new trend today that we call ‘the third industry’, which refers to retail industry. This new trend was marked by the opening of AEON Mall BSD last year. AEON Mall is a leading Japanese retail group that aims to create a strong footprint in Asia and Indonesia. AEON has been very successful and now they are planning to open several new malls in the Greater Jakarta area. H.E. VITTORIO SANDALLI, Ambassador of Italy to Indonesia

Ambassador's Highlights (11)

Both Indonesia and Italy are very committed to strengthen peace and stability at a global and regional level. We both share the same values and vision of international relations, not only on a bilateral level, but also in the framework of relations between Indonesia and the European Union and between Italy and ASEAN. What I would like to stress is that I noticed that we share a common goal – we have a mutual interest to mainly strengthen our economic and commercial relations. In fact, my mandate here is mainly focused on economic and commercial issues. My impression is that the potential to improve and to expand this form of cooperation is really huge. In the last few months, I noticed that the attention to the Italian business sector has been increasing, and you have many Italian companies that intend to expand their activities in Indonesia, mainly in the sector of infrastructure and energy, particularly renewable energies. What is really encouraging is that the momentum of the economic between Italy and Indonesia is very favourable. Both the attention and the efforts are very high at the moment. CASPER KLYNGE, Ambassador of Denmark to Indonesia

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When looking ahead over the next year, we have many ambitious goals. We are working tirelessly to increase the number of ministerial visits between our two countries. We have been fortunate enough to have had a range of visits in over the past year – both from Denmark to Indonesia and from Indonesia to Denmark. But we aim to have even more visits to strengthen the Indonesian-Danish partnership as well as our political and commercial cooperation. Visits by Ministers are key to promote trade, investments and closer political ties. H.E. JOHANNA BRISMAR SKOOG, Ambassador of Sweden to Indonesia

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We don’t have any problematic bilateral issues and we share many priorities. This is a trade-focused embassy, so I spend a lot of my time working with the Swedish and Indonesian business community to promote innovative and sustainable solutions. One example is in the infrastructure sector, which Indonesia is focusing on and where we have deep experience and expertise. Transport solutions is an important part of that. I am also very happy that we now have a dedicated energy counsellor at the embassy, who can concentrate on renewable energy and energy efficiency. This year, we have been working particularly with IT and digital infrastructure. Creative industries is another area we are good at, and Indonesia has high ambitions in that field. Increased exchange would be mutually beneficial. H.E. PAIVI HILTUNEN-TOIVIO, Ambassador of Finland to Indonesia

Ambassador's Highlights (12)

Finland and Indonesia have a long history of a mutually beneficial partnership despite the fact that both countries are relatively young republics. Indonesia has passed 70 years and Finland will celebrate its 100 years in 2017. Finland and Indonesia are both resource-based economies. Waterways have played a crucial role in their development, and forests are a distinctive feature of their landscapes and economy. Our relationship has evolved along the economic development from the resource sectors into IT and digital economy while natural resources are still the undergrowth from which the widening and deepening of our relationship springs. Today it is energy, forestry, industrial machinery, engineering, and telecommunication as well as education that are playing the most prominent role in our relationship. H.E. STIG TRAAVIK, Ambassador of Norway to Indonesia

Ambassador's Highlights (14)

Our support for civil society has been linked to the “green” economy in Indonesia – protection of forests and so on – but what I turn to now is that Norway is concerned with the “blue” economy from aqua farming to offshore oil and gas. The green remains of course, but the blue will grow. There is great interest from both sides, Indonesia and Norway, with many visits focused on this, and this is where I see things growing, mainly driven by joint interest – Indonesia is investing in the blue economy and Norway has the experience and technical expertise to help.