The Jakarta Post
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo made a blockbuster reference when speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on ASEAN in Hanoi on Wednesday, comparing the state of the world economy to Marvel’s Infinity War.
He also compared the intensity of the ongoing trade war between the world’s major powers to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
“But rest assured that I and my fellow Avengers stand ready to prevent Thanos from wiping out half the world’s population,” Jokowi said in a speech that was live streamed on the forum’s website.
The President explained how Thanos, the main villain of the 2018 movie, wanted to wipe out half the world’s population so that the surviving half could enjoy better access to resources.
“But there’s a fundamental mistake in his underlying assumption. Thanos believed the planet’s resources are limited, are finite. The reality is that the resources available for humanity are not finite, but infinite. Our resources are not limited, but unlimited,” he said.
Jokowi said technological progress had created greater efficiency, resulting in the possibility to use resources more sustainably.
“As an economy grows it is driven increasingly not by natural resources but by human talent, which is unlimited,” he said, adding that Indonesia’s human talent, especially among the country’s youth, had been driving a transformation toward e-commerce and the digital economy boom.
Jokowi said Indonesia had four unicorns — startups with valuations of over US$1 billion.
One of the unicorns is app-based services company Go-Jek, which launched in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi under the brand Go-Viet, on Wednesday.
ASEAN and Indonesia would be at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution, Jokowi said, “But first, we must prevent the trade wars from becoming the infinity war,” Jokowi said.
He continued the comparison by saying that Thanos as the villain of the movie symbolized “the misguided belief that in order to succeed others must surrender”.
Beginning earlier this year, the ongoing trade war has seen China and the United States impose sanctions and tariffs against each other, while the US has also imposed tariffs against Canada and the European Union.
US President Donald Trump said he wanted to reduce the US’ trade deficit with China, while also claiming that tariffs were a means to protect national security and the intellectual property of US businesses.
In addition to attending the forum, Jokowi and his entourage have also held bilateral meetings with Vietnamese officials, starting from Tuesday.
Among the issues discussed between Jokowi and his Vietnamese counterpart Tran Dai Quang on Tuesday was how to achieve $10 billion in annual bilateral trade by 2020, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said in a media statement on Wednesday.
The minister added that the value of bilateral trade reached almost $7 billion in 2017.
Retno said that Indonesia was also pushing for fair trade with Vietnam and the elimination of trade barriers that could affect Indonesia’s exports to the country.
In addition, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the eradication of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Retno said the MoU signing was carried out in parallel with efforts to resolve the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) boundaries of the two countries located to the north of the Natuna Islands in Riau Islands province.
“For the time being, while we keep negotiating the EEZ, we have agreed to fight IUU fishing. Therefore, yesterday [Tuesday], we signed an MoU on IUU fishing,” Retno said in the press statement.
The minister said the agreement was urgently needed to manage marine areas and reduce related maritime incidents.
Vietnamese boats have been among the foreign vessels impounded by Indonesian authorities for conducting illegal fishing.
The MoU signing was part of the 2013 to 2018 plan of action between Indonesia and Vietnam, which have been strategic partners since 2013.
Considering that the 2013-2018 plan of action would soon conclude, Retno said that Indonesia and Vietnam had finalized the second phase of the plan for the next five years until 2023.