Tag Archives: Southeast Asia

The Netherlands Sends Largest Ever Trade Mission to Indonesia

This week, a group of Dutch politicians and businessmen, led by prime minister Mark Rutte, will pay a four day visit to Indonesia.

The aim of the visit is to smoothen bilateral relations and search for business opportunities between both countries.

This Dutch group, which includes more than one hundred Dutch company delegates, forms the largest Dutch trade delegation that has visited Southeast Asia’s biggest economy in the modern history.

However, relations between the Netherlands and Indonesia are still complex today.

Obviously, the complexity of relations between both countries traces back to the colonial period, which brings along more emotions, in particular on the part of Indonesia.

Last year, commotion emerged after the Dutch parliament refused to sell army tanks to Indonesia because the Indonesian government might use these against its own people. This then became a laughing stock for Indonesians who pointed to the colonial past.

Moreover, in 2010, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono cancelled a trip to the Netherlands at the last minute because the Dutch government could not guarantee Yudhoyono’s inviolability regarding a lawsuit filed by the government-in-exile of the Republic of South Maluku (RMS). The RMS issued legal proceedings to have Yudhoyono arrested upon entering the Netherlands.

Indonesia is a highly promising market. The country contains a large population (over 240 million people) with a rapidly expanding middle class.

Per capita GDP has been increasing strongly in recent years, implying that the expanding middle class segment has more and more money to spend.

Regarding commodities, Southeast Asia’s largest economy contains an abundance and variety, including palm oil, coal, nickel, rubber, and cocoa.

Despite the political sensitivities, trade relations between both countries have been growing robustly.

In the last three years, bilateral trade rose 25 percent to approximately €3.5 billion in 2012. As such, Indonesia is the fastest growing export market for the Netherlands in Asia.

However, there is still ample room for further growth and that is why the Dutch trade delegation, which includes Shell, Unilever, Philips and ING, is heading for Indonesia this week.

Source: indonesia-investments

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Breakthrough imminent in Indonesia: O’Neill’s plan to defuse standoff over West Papua

By Rowan Callick === A breakthrough may be on the way for one of the most intractable conflicts in the Asia-Pacific region. Relations between Indonesia and the Melanesian nations, led by Papua New Guinea, have remained awkward ever since the Dutch withdrew from “Netherlands New Guinea,” and the Pacific islands became independent states.

The plight of “West Papua” as it is often called, has prevented Indonesia, the biggest and closest country in South-East Asia, from building the links that might otherwise have been expected, with the island countries to its east—even since it became a liberal democracy 15 years ago.

But, the PNG government, led by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, has recently launched an initiative aimed at defusing the stand-off over West Papua, building the economy of the centre of New Guinea island, and gaining diplomatic spin-offs.

The western half of New Guinea island comprises two Indonesian provinces: Papua, whose capital is Jayapura, and West Papua, whose capital is Manokwari. It has a 750-km mostly mountainous and often in the past fraught and dangerous border with PNG.

In 2001, the area now covered by the two provinces was declared autonomous with 80 percent of its tax receipts to be retained for local use. But this process has remained only partially complete compared with the more successful governance situation in Aceh, at the other end of the Indonesian archipelago.

O’Neill, who led a delegation to Jakarta for talks with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said: “West Papua has been a sticky issue for PNG and the western Pacific for quite some time. Our role is to open up discussions.

Genuine desire
“We feel the government of Indonesia has a genuine desire to ensure issues relating to West Papua are managed in a mutually beneficial manner. For the first time in our bilateral discussions, we were able to discuss this openly with the Indonesian government,” said PM O’Neill.

He said he is convinced that Yudhoyono now wishes to withdraw military presence from West Papua, and allow for more autonomy through economic empowerment of the people.

“We feel this is a good opening for us to engage with the Indonesian government so we can participate in the improvement of the lives of Melanesian people there and of our own people along the border. Our officials are now engaged meaningfully in establishing the cooperation we agreed,” he said.

PNG’s Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato elaborated on the deal that was informally struck: “The Indonesian president will adopt a softer approach to West Papuan issues, allowing them greater autonomy.”

As an indicator of this, official representatives will participate in the Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture to be hosted by PNG next year.

He said Indonesia would allow Papua New Guinea communities near the border to draw on its excess hydro power capacity with state-owned enterprise PNG Power buying electricity for its grid from Indonesia, and that the two countries would jointly explore for oil and gas in highly prospective targets that straddle the border.

Indonesia, Pato said, would fund an ambitious paved highway from Merauke on its side of the border in the south, to PNG’s Wewak on the northern coast.

The countries’ leaders signed a total of 11 MOUs during O’Neill’s visit, after which Pato and his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa began to chart an implementation course.

Extradition treaty
They agreed on an extradition treaty—which may ensure that Indonesian businessman fugitive Joko Chandra—wanted for corruption and who obtained PNG citizenship under a process that is being challenged legally—returns to face charges.

Another agreement under final negotiation, will permit planes to fly from Nadi, Fiji, through Honiara in Solomon Islands, then Port Moresby, and on to Bali.

One goal of the warming of relations, Pato said, was to prevent any resurgence of asylum-seekers from the Indonesian side of the border. About 8,000 refugees remain in PNG, living in camps in Western province run by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees following earlier conflicts, many of them seeking refuge more than 25 years ago.

The discussions between PNG and Indonesia have led to the latter inviting the foreign ministers of the four Melanesian states — Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji, as well as PNG, who form the “Melanesian Spearhead Group” (MSG) — to visit its Papua and West Papua provinces.

O’Neill flew for talks with Yudhoyono instead of attending an MSG leaders’ meeting held at the same time in New Caledonia.

While PNG is helping to usher its fellow Melanesians in towards better relations with Indonesia, Indonesia in return is backing Port Moresby’s membership of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

ASEAN has 10 members at present — and PNG feels it is entitled to join it because it has such a long land border with the group’s largest state.

Indonesia is also backing PNG’s bid to host the 2018 summit of the APEC forum — which would bring the American and Russian presidents, among other leaders, to Port Moresby — which will be decided at the next summit in Bali in October.

“It’s important for us to have such a relationship with Indonesia,” said Pato — who points out that in previous years, tensions not only unresolved but not even fully discussed about West Papua had prevented the full development of positive, mutually beneficial arrangements between the countries.

Now a joint committee of ministers from the countries has been formed to tackle the details and ensure the MOUs are implemented, he said — starting with the joint economic projects.

Source: Islands Business

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Indonesia’s President welcomed by British queen

Quen Elizabeth II: “I am confident that if we work together on our shared aspiration to build a prosperous world based on fundamental freedoms, the partnership between the United Kingdom and Indonesia will continue to flourish.”

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II welcomed Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday for a state visit aimed at boosting ties with the emerging Asian power, with the help of some traditional pomp and pageantry.

The queen hosted a lavish banquet at Buckingham Palace in honour of Yudhoyono and his wife Ani, after formally welcoming them for the three-day visit with a guard of honour and a ride in her ceremonial carriage.

In a speech to the 177 dinner guests in the palace ballroom, the 86-year-old British monarch praised the strong relationship between the two countries and spoke of their “common values”.

“I am confident that if we work together on our shared aspiration to build a prosperous world based on fundamental freedoms, the partnership between the United Kingdom and Indonesia will continue to flourish,” she said.

She described Indonesia as having undergone a “remarkable transformation” since Yudhoyono came to power in 2004.

“It is now a thriving democracy and one of the world’s fastest growing economies,” said the queen, who visited Indonesia in 1974 with her husband Prince Philip.

“Your visit marks a further step in strengthening our relationship.”In his own speech, delivered in Indonesian, Yudhoyono said the two countries “have many things in common, including in efforts to strengthen democracy”.

“I wish to reaffirm my country’s readiness to establish close cooperation with the United Kingdom,” he told the assembled guests, who included British Prime Minister David Cameron, other ministers and members of the royal family.

The guests were served Scottish halibut followed by a main course of chicken with baby artichokes and fondant potatoes, and a desert of iced green apple with a mulberry parfait made with fruit from the palace garden.

The queen wore a gold dress with a diamond necklace passed down to her from Queen Victoria, her great-great-grandmother.

She had earlier welcomed the Yudhoyonos with a military ceremony on Horse Guards Parade, the large parade ground in central London, where the visiting leader inspected the troops in their scarlet uniforms and bearskin hats.

The queen and Prince Philip then accompanied them in a horsedrawn state carriage procession along the Mall to Buckingham Palace, where the visiting couple are staying during their trip.

Yudhoyono will hold talks with Cameron on Thursday and attend a meeting of the high-level United Nations panel that is drawing up a strategy on how to build on the Millennium Development Goals.

Yudhoyono, who is the world’s only head of state to have served as a UN peacekeeper, will also give a speech at the Royal College of Defence Studies.
The 15th-century Guildhall, in London’s financial district, will host a second banquet on Thursday night.

Several trade announcements are expected during the three-day trip, with Britain keen to gain access to Indonesia’s fast-growing economy and 240 million consumers.

The state visit is part of Britain’s drive to boost its diplomatic presence in Southeast Asia, with Indonesia regarded by British officials as the most influential player in the region.

As the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, it is also seen as a strategic ally in the Islamic world.

Britain usually hosts two state visits each year, but Yudhoyono is the only foreign head of state to receive the formal hospitality in 2012 following months of diamond jubilee celebrations marking the queen’s 60th year on the throne.

The last state visit was by Turkish President Abdullah Gul in November last year.

Source: AFP

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Indonesian president in Britain for state visit

Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono begins a three-day state visit to Britain on Wednesday, with officials keen to impress the emerging Asian power with a display of pomp and pageantry.

Queen Elizabeth II is scheduled to formally welcome Yudhoyono and his wife Ani on Wednesday afternoon with a guard of honour on Horse Guards Parade, before accompanying them to Buckingham Palace in a horse-drawn carriage.

The Indonesian leader and his wife will stay at the palace, where the 86-year-old monarch is hosting a lavish state banquet in their honour on Wednesday evening.

“As well having one of the world’s most thriving economies, Indonesia is in the vanguard of the political change shaping Asia,” Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament on Tuesday.

“This visit will be an opportunity for us to build on the strong partnership established over the last decade.”

The president will hold talks with Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday and attend a meeting of the high-level United Nations panel that is drawing up a strategy on how to build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Yudhoyono, who is the world’s only head of state to have served as a UN peacekeeper, will also give a speech at the Royal College of Defence Studies.

The 15th-century Guildhall, in London’s financial district, will host a second banquet on Thursday night.

Several trade announcements are expected during the three-day trip, with Britain keen to gain access to Indonesia’s fast-growing economy and 240 million consumers.

The state visit is part of Britain’s drive to boost its diplomatic presence in Southeast Asia, with Indonesia regarded by officials as the most influential player in the region.

As the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, it is also seen as a strategic ally in the Islamic world.

“Indonesia is far and away the most important country in ASEAN,” said a Foreign Office source.

Officials also see Indonesia as a potential future host for foreign campuses of its universities, similar to Malaysia where several British universities including Nottingham, Southampton and Newcastle have outposts.

Britain usually hosts two state visits each year, but Yudhoyono is the only foreign head of state to receive the formal hospitality in 2012 following months of diamond jubilee celebrations marking the queen’s 60th year on the throne.

The last state visit was by Turkish President Abdullah Gul in November last year.

Source: MSN News

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UK’s trade delegation visits RI

A delegation comprising UK companies visit Indonesia this week to explore business opportunities, particularly in developing partnerships with state firms and private companies in the country’s power and energy sector.

The delegation, led by Ali Sherwani, business development head at UK Export Finance, the UK government’s export credit agency, will stay in Indonesia from Tuesday to Friday in a bid to strengthen the bilateral trade and investment relations between the two countries.

“UK companies recognize the size and strength of the Indonesian economy and are very keen to develop long-term, productive and collaborative partnerships with their Indonesian counterparts,” Ali said in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post.

UK is currently one of the leading investors in Indonesia. A number of UK-based world-class companies have been investing their money in the Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

One of the companies is the oil and gas giant firm BP. Plc., who owns a a massive gas project located in the Bintuni Bay area in Papua, where total proven gas reserves amount to some 14.4 trillion cubic feet.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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US and Indonesian navy warships conduct joint exercise

The US navy warship USS Benfold conducted an exercise with two Indonesian navy warships in Bali waters.

The exercise covered tactical manoeuvers, communication, and other safety procedures.

The two Indonesian navy warships that involved in the exercise were KRI Hasan Basri and KRI Uling.

The Indonesian navy hopes that the exercise would improve the capabilities of the Indonesian Navy personnel.

Meanwhile, USS Benfold commander Adrian Jansen said his ship`s presence in the region was part of his tour of Southeast Asia.

After that, Jansen said, he would return to the US to conduct other operations.

The 54-metre-long USS Benfold weighs around 8,900 tonnes and can carry 280 navy personnel.

Source: ANTARA News

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Pupuk Indonesia plans $5.2 bln petrochem complex in Papua

Indonesian fertilizer firm PT Pupuk Indonesia plans to build a petrochemical complex worth $5.2 billion in the country’s Papua region, an official said on Wednesday (19/04).

Investors from Japan, South Korea and Germany have expressed interest to take part in a plant that will have annual capacity of 2 million tonnes a year, said the firm’s CEO Arifin Tasrif.

“We want to be the majority (owner) in a joint venture company,” Tasrif said, without giving details on the timeframe for the plant.

Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, is seeing strong economic growth of over six percent and the government is keen for investors to expand the petrochemical industry to make higher value products from the country’s oil and gas output.

Papua, a remote and mountainous region in eastern Indonesia home to BP’s ‘s Tangguh liquefied natural gas plant, sees high costs for construction and businesses because of the expense in transporting materials from the country’s main industrial centres on Java island.

Pupuk Indonesia, a holding firm of four state-controlled fertilizer firms, already has plants in west and east Java, in Kalimantan on Borneo island and Aceh in Sumatra island, with a total capacity of 12 million tonnes.

The firm expects sales in 2012 to reach 45 trillion rupiah ($4.90 billion), up from last year’s 40 trillion rupiah.

*($1 = 9,180 rupiah)

Source: Reuters

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