New Zealand and Indonesia: Growing together
Indonesia holds strong memories for me — before I became New Zealand’s Trade Minister I was based in Jakarta as the New Zealand Ambassador to Indonesia from 1994 till 1997.
Since then, I’ve noticed huge changes — a booming economy, a new skyline and increased wealth across the country and the huge political changes that have made Indonesia into a bustling, vibrant Asian democracy. It is plain to see that Indonesia is taking on the world.
It’s been a pleasure for me to be back in Indonesia this week, along with New Zealand Prime Minister Rt. Hon John Key and delegation of New Zealand business and government representatives.
New Zealand too, has seen changes over the past 15 years. We’ve developed deeper relationships within the Asia-Pacific region, including being the first Western nation to sign a Free Trade Agreement with China in 2008. This has resulted in growth for both our nations, and with the recent ratification by Indonesia of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement with Australia and New Zealand (AANZFTA), we hope to also grow together here.
We’re aware that the Indonesian government has ambitious goals to achieve self-sufficiency in five strategic agriculture commodities by 2014. New Zealand is supporting increased agriculture production in Indonesia, including by providing a package of assistance to support Indonesia’s growing agricultural sector.
This package will help with the development of Indonesia’s dairy sector, in which New Zealand is recognized as a global leader. The package will also improve access for Indonesian horticultural exports to New Zealand. In addition, Indonesians will have access to high quality New Zealand produce that is complementary to domestic output — such as award-winning halal beef, where demand currently outstrips local supply. Imports will remain an important part of Indonesia’s food security mix.
We also offer expertise in a broad range of areas, including food and nutrition, agri-processing, food processing, and technology in refrigeration, storage and logistics for minimizing post-production losses.
But New Zealand is not just a leader in food — we also have niche skill sets that can be scaled up here in Indonesia in areas such as aviation and green technologies, in particular geothermal, of which there are five company representatives on this trip.
We’ve already been working together in this area for 40 years — in 1982, former Indonesian president Soeharto and former New Zealand prime minister Sir Robert Muldoon opened Indonesia’s first commercial geothermal plant at Kamojang, West Java, financed and built by New Zealand.
In December 2011, the New Zealand government also agreed to fund a package of support for the Indonesian Government’s power company PT Pertamina Geothermal Energy (PGE).
The funding will help PGE increase power generation from renewable resources, as well as manage future investments that will contribute to Indonesia’s geothermal energy production targets. Geothermal New Zealand, an industry-driven group, is looking to work with PGE and others through private sector partnerships.
In addition, a memorandum of understanding between Indonesia’s Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry and the New Zealand government, signed this week, aims to support closer geothermal cooperation including improving human resource capacity, and encouraging commercial partnerships.
I believe these partnerships will be successful — New Zealanders and Indonesians are both hard-working, persistent and are passionate about innovation in industry. The decades-long relationships in geothermal initiatives have proven our nations share many common goals.
But there is still some way to go. One discussion we have had this week is around strengthening connectivity within Indonesia and the region. AANZFTA will reinforce people-to-people links between Indonesia and New Zealand and will also assist opportunities for New Zealand’s expertise in seaport and aviation development to contribute to Indonesia’s infrastructure.
In the 1970s, New Zealand consultancy firm Beca planted its roots here. Founder Sir Ron Carter built a strong business and friendship together with Dr. Ciputra. Now, that new skyline I mentioned is going up with the help of this Kiwi Company, who is currently working on the mechanical and electrical engineering for the Signature Tower.
Beca also works in another area that we have in common — dealing with ground that rumbles beneath us. Sometimes this can be to positive effect, as we’ve seen in the energy that our countries have been able to harness from geothermal. Sometimes it can be to devastating effect, as we know with Christchurch and Indonesia with Yogyakarta, Banda Aceh and Padang.
Beca worked on Indonesia’s first earthquake code, and after the Christchurch quake knowledge among engineers was shared — with several Indonesians even travelling to Christchurch to assist. Christchurch Airport who are also in Indonesia on this trip have won awards for its management of the Christchurch quake and is now keen to work with new airports here to share in that knowledge — and save lives in the future.
This trip has been about those relationships we’ve enjoyed these years, and building new ones — not just in trade, but also in tertiary education, tourism and increased bilateral investment flows too.
We’re here to complement each other’s strengths — with the aim of growing together to take on the world.
The writer is New Zealand Minister for Trade.