29 Apr 2016
On 21-22 April 2016 the President of Indonesia, Bp. Joko Widodo visited the Netherlands, the first presidential visit of Indonesia to our country after 16 years. The visit concluded an efficient European tour of ‘Jokowi’, which lead him to Germany, the United Kingdom and Belgium, the last including a call to the European institutions.
The evening of the arrival of the president, Thursday the 21st, was dedicated to an encounter with the Indonesian community in the Netherlands. Courteously enough the Board of the Indonesia Nederland Society also was invited and we consider this an honour.
Friday April 22 started early with a meeting with Prime Minister Rutte and a whistle-stop at the Rotterdam harbour. Back again in The Hague, President Joko Widodo was the key note speaker of a well attended bilateral business forum in the Kurhaus Hotel in Scheveningen. The popular president was welcomed with a warm applause, that also included H.E. Retno Marsudi, now Minister of Foreign Affairs but prior to that appointed as Ambassador to the Netherlands. It’s only well over a year ago that the INS bade her farewell during an informal lunch.
The host of the business forum, Hans de Boer of VNO-NCW, quoted some elements from the previous NRC-interview with the President: his care for the welfare of his people; the future perspectives for the young Indonesians and the win-win situation that could emerge from working together.
Minister Ploumen referred to the ‘comprehensive partnership’ that was agreed upon during the visit of the PM Rutte to Indonesia in the fall of 2014. This partnership included, amongst others, projects like the planned economic zone on Ambon and sustainable palm oil production on Sumatra. The latter would also brought forward on the G20 level, as was agreed with China. The Minister for Foreign Trade and Development further saw opportunities for a closer cooperation between Rotterdam and Jakarta; investments in harbours and hinterland and the drive back of illegal fishery activities. Fitting in the maritime axis plan of President Jokowi, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed for maritime cooperation including the enhancement of marine resource clusters as well as human-resource capacity building through vocational training programs.
President Jokowi called the Netherlands ‘an old friend’ and the strongest partner of Indonesia within the EU, adding that ‘instead of a visit once every 16 years, a three-yearly visit would be more appropriate!’ Economy in Indonesia is stable with a good 5% economic growth and a relatively well upholding of the Rupiah, despite the economic downswing in China and decreased oil price. However, the downgrade of the world oil price has helped the Indonesian president in abolishing the subsidies on fuel. That measure released $ 20 billion that was spent on education and the very much needed improvement of infrastructure, relieving the enormous traffic jams in Jakarta and other big cities, besides building deep sea ports and airports. The financing for the infrastructural projects partly comes from China and the Asia Bank.
The economic policy of Indonesia stands for openness, economical competition instead of monopolies (the admission of Shell petrol next to the national brand Pertamina) and de-regulation where-ever possible. Meanwhile a number of economic sectors have been put open for foreign investors. With ca. 45% of the ASEAN-GDP, Indonesia also picks up ‘translocation’, as from China.
With goodbyes in his best of Dutch, the President proceeded to a luncheon meeting with a selected number of captains of industry, chaired by Hans de Boer of VNO-NCW.
The chair of the Indonesia Nederland Society, Jesse Kuijper, took the thread leading the panel discussion by a variety of Indonesian and Dutch entrepreneurs. The Netherlands is the 6th largest investor in Indonesia, after Singapore, Japan and the US. Favourite sectors are Telecom, transport and storage, but electricity, oil & gas supply and tourism also offer opportunities.
Mr. Sibarani of BKM Linings (rubber) praised the one-stop-service that the Indonesian government newly installed for foreign investors in order to counter bureaucracy.
The Dutch panel members drew attention to the importance of dairy for child health and the farmer2farmer program (Mr. Joosten of Royal FrieslandCampina); the Dutch proven capabilities in the maritime and water management sector (Mr. Van Sluis of Nederland Maritiem); the importance of the Garuda-project for Great-Jakarta (Mr. Van de Boomen of Kuiper Compagnons) and the Bandung fashion-village (Mrs. Loen) for local employment.
The Indonesian Minister for Foreign Trade, Thomas Lembong, underlined the importance of sustainable palm oil production alongside the forest protection and recovery of peat moors and forests after the long lasting and yearly recurring dangerous fires on Sumatra that cause tremendous nuisance. Bp. Lembong saw opportunities in ship building, fishery, maritime cooperation, urban development and vocational training. Indonesia is putting a great deal of effort in deregulation and enhancing the small and medium sized businesses and is in search of the adequate fit with ‘skills, software and training’
The audience posed questions on the export of palm oil and opportunities for the Dutch MKB (small to medium-sized enterprises). Chair Jesse Kuijper (INS) and the panel handled these rather well and so one can conclude that the business forum was a success: it was by all means an informative session in a outstanding open and good atmosphere.
After the luncheon meeting President Jokowi honoured the University of Leiden with a visit, prior to his departure for Indonesia.
The Indonesia Nederland Society thinks both countries can look back on a fruitful presidential visit, to be continued…..