In conjunction with the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations, the Finnish Ambassador to Indonesia tells NOW! Jakarta about Finland and Indonesia’s friendship and other positive cooperations between the two countries.
What have been the Embassy’s most important events and achievements over the last 12 months?
With other European and Nordic countries we have raised the awareness for circular economy. Our embassy recently organised a seminar highlighting the importance of waste management, reuse of plastics, cleaner energy and the idea of sharing and renting instead of owning things.
We have also just launched a video series on circular economy together with students of Multimedia Nusantara University (UMN). The videos are available for everyone interested on YouTube under the Finland Abroad channel. We think that sustainability also needs a strong educational component.
Our embassy also supported a Women, Peace and Security training seminar that was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in April.
On a more personal level, the highlight was a year ago in November when I presented my credentials to President Widodo. We had a very pleasant short chat on sustainable Smart Cities.
Have there been any major VIP visits to or from Finland? Who was involved? What were the results of the visits?
We had elections almost on the same day as Indonesia last April. Our new cabinet has concentrated its travelling onto Europe because of our on-going six-month-long Presidency of the European Union. We’ll get next ministerial visit from Finland to Indonesia in 2020. On working level, the interaction continues actively. In October, an expert delegation of circular economy paid a four-day visit to Indonesia to meet stakeholders, initiate cooperation and to take part in our Circular Economy seminar. There have been dozens of delegations going to Finland. A recent one represented universities, technology parks and incubators. I commend the active work of my Indonesian colleague, H.E. Mrs. Wiwiek Setyawati Firman, with her team in Helsinki.
What are the main points of interaction with the Indonesian Government at the moment? What are the main challenges?
We just had political consultations on Director General level with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Both of our countries confirmed cooperation in supporting the rules-based world order, for example, the importance of the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. Peace mediation was also a theme in which we can intensify cooperation. The challenges are not in interaction with Indonesia but how to defend multilateralism together in an efficient way. We are good partners and I am afraid we’ll have to be even more innovative on this in the future. On sectoral issues, we are now discussing with Indonesian ministries to get recognition to a so-called Public Sector Investment Facility (PIF). It is a financing tool that would facilitate sustainable development goals of the United Nations and utilise Finnish expertise and technology in Indonesia.
Have you seen an increase in interest in Indonesia from Finnish companies or in Finnish products and services by Indonesian companies or consumers?
Indonesia is the most important export market for Finnish goods and services in South East Asia, and in recent years it has also experienced the fastest growth. Large infra companies are well presented in Indonesia. Wärtsilä and Valmet are involved in power generation, Kone provides elevators and escalators, Nokia provides ICT networks, Cargotec and Konecranes cargo handling systems in ports. I feel our economies are very compatible because our industries provide tools and know-how for making Indonesian economy more efficient. There is no direct competition between Finnish and Indonesian companies, and the Finnish ones would like to increase the local procurement of high-quality items here.
Last August there was an interesting experience in Finland. With my Business Finland colleagues we participated in a speed-dating event. The idea was to discuss with those companies that were interested in Indonesia. We ‘dated’ 20 companies whose businesses ranged from workwear textile services to artificial intelligence-based communication tools. Indonesia seems to be inching up onto the radar screen of Finnish companies and our team is eager to help them. In Indonesia, I have met individuals who have already invested in Finnish clean technology. It is a good sign in itself but also a telling example on how the global value chains are intertwined nowadays.
How is the balance of trade between the countries? What about the balance of visitors?
According to our customs figures Indonesian export to Finland was worth 165 million euros, Finland’s export to Indonesia 355 million euros last year. This is balanced by visitor figures, namely around 28,000 from Finland to Indonesia and around 3,000 from Indonesia to Finland.
There seems to have been an increase in cooperation between the Nordic embassies resulting in the joint Nordic National Day and Nordic Chamber of commerce. Please tell us more about this.
Nordic societies and economies have a lot in common. That makes our common messaging resonate easily. For example, we are all advocating for cleaner energy and increased sustainability in Indonesia. It seems that the Nordic Night gains popularity every year. I personally enjoy it very much. Sometimes hosting an event can take energy, this time I felt receiving energy from the very good vibes of the crowd.
What are your plans for the next twelve months?
Naturally I will continue efforts to link Finnish and Indonesian businesses. Smart energy, smart cities, waste to energy, digital economy with digital safety, among other things. These are some of the themes that we’ll keep promoting with my embassy and Business Finland colleagues. Also education sector cooperation remains important. On a personal level, I would also like to visit more provinces. One of the next trips in the pipeline will be to Surabaya, because we’ll open a new honorary consulate there.
Thank you, H.E. Jari SInkari, Ambassador of Finland to Indonesia.