The Jakarta Post
Amid sluggish economic growth in China, a key trading partner of Indonesia, economists have again warned of the importance of finding new markets to offset the risk of trade decline with China.
Institute for Development of Economics and Finance ( INDEF ) economist Berly Martawardaya said that there were potential alternative markets that could be developed amid China's slowdown, namely India, South Africa, South Korea, and Eastern European countries.
"Trade with India must be developed, not only limited to commodities. India is now one of the biggest markets for our coal, but we need to expand to other sectors. We have exported automotive goods to South Africa, but besides that, more non-oil and gas markets could be developed," Berly told the thejakartapost.com on Jan 8.
Bank Central Asia ( BCA ) chief economist David Sumual said that the new markets should become Indonesia's markets for value-added goods such as electronics.
"Africa and Latin American countries are potential markets for electronics. Indonesia must invite technologically advanced countries like South Korea and Taiwan to invest here and then export the products to Africa," David said.
On the other hand, he continued, the government should consider joining the Trans Pacific Partnership ( TPP ), as doing so would allow Indonesia to develop trade with Latin America.
Indonesian Ambassador to India Rizali Wilmar Indrakesuma said that India was a potential market for pharmaceutical products and food. India imports vaccines from Indonesia, and could potentially help Indonesia secure affordable medicine for the national health coverage scheme. India is the biggest generic medicine producer in the world.
"Aside from rice, we can also import meat from India, where water buffalo is bred well. Some Indonesian consumer good brands have entered India, such as Indomie and Mayora," Rizali said.
However, he acknowledged that problems in market expansion also lied in practice and that the government and businesspeople needed to work in tandem.
Unfortunately, many businesspeople are battling a sluggish economy. Adaro Energy president director Garibaldi Thohir said that the company was focusing on efficiency and domestic needs, rather than on expanding its export market.
"How can we expand when the global coal price is weak? Right now we are focusing on using our cash flow to invest in the local market such as through developing [coal-based] power plants," Garibaldi said. ( ags )