The Jakarta Post
The government is urging state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to explore business opportunities in Southeast Asia to compete for chunks of the 2015 ASEAN single market under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
Trade Ministry secretary-general Gunaryo says local firms, including state-run ones, need to be prepared by improving their competitiveness, both in terms of human resources and the quality of their products.
Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan made the same call earlier this month to local business players.
'We have to be competitive ahead of the AEC 2015 [...] because we only have one-and-a-half years of preparation,' Gunaryo said on Thursday on the sidelines of an event to disseminate information about the AEC to the public.
'We believe that Indonesian producers will be able to expand their market coverage in ASEAN in the future.'
He said that competitiveness was essential for tapping into ASEAN growth as the country would face fierce competition from the other nine ASEAN members: Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
'We keep reminding local players of this issue [...] so they are aware of the competition they will face imminently,' Gunaryo said.
The state-owned enterprises minister's deputy for business restructuring and strategic plans, Pandu Djajanto, said some state-run firms had made progress in the past few years, while others remained stagnant.
The single market is envisioned as ensuring a free flow of goods and services between ASEAN members.
According to the ministry's data, Indonesia booked a US$10.57 billion surplus in oil and gas trade with ASEAN countries last year, up by 7 percent from the previous year.
But the country recorded a $960 million deficit last year in trading non-oil and gas goods with its ASEAN partners, nearly a 3 percent decline from that in 2011.
Indonesian ambassadors to Thailand and Myanmar, Lutfi Rauf and Sebastian Sumarsono, respectively, who attended the event, said Indonesia had the capabilities, including a huge population and abundant natural resources, to capitalize in the ASEAN market.
'Myanmar offers a major opportunity for anyone wanting to help the country grow and Indonesia has every possible thing to help it develop. We have seen an increasing demand in infrastructure, services and food products in Myanmar for several years, and this is something that we can grab,' Sebastianus said.
He said that three state-owned firms, namely oil and gas firm PT Pertamina, publicly listed lender PT Bank Negara Indonesia and publicly listed construction firm PT Wijaya Karya, had been running operations in Yangon since last year.
Indonesia's total investment in Myanmar currently stands at $241.5 million, with the figure expected to increase significantly when the ASEAN single market is launched.
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