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Indonesia to take Apec out of the ivory tower

Publication Date : 17-06-2013


The upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in Bali in October will undoubtedly serve as an opportunity for Indonesia to flex its muscle on economic diplomacy.

To gain an insight into Indonesia’s agenda during the prestigious gatherings of 21 Pacific-rim economies, The Jakarta Post’s Linda Yulisman and Yohanna Ririhena recently talked to the chairman of Apec’s Senior Officials’ Meeting and the Foreign Ministry’s director general for Asia-Pacific and African affairs Yuri Thamrin. The following are excerpts from the interview:

Question: What will be Indonesia’s main agenda in the upcoming Apec Summit?

Answer: We have set three priorities for the Summit: achieving the Bogor goals [Apec’s commitment forged in Bogor, West Java, in 1994 for free and open trade and investment by 2020], growth with equity, and promoting connectivity.

For the Bogor goals, we will include other technical themes, such as discussion on non-tariff barriers, local content, green goods and equitable benefits for globalisation and many others. For discussion on sustainable growth with equity, we will try to put in place the President’s directive on how to avoid Apec from staying at the ivory tower. The outcomes should affect the lives of our people. How should it benefit, for example, farmers, women and health.

In terms of promoting connectivity, we will come up with a multi-year plan on infrastructure investment and development.

But in implementing the Apec mandate, we won’t solely employ market-driven principles. This year, we will also prioritise sustainable growth with equity principle, which basically deals with how we can improve people’s welfare [...] such as ways to encourage and help small and medium enterprises to gain market access. The benefits also pertain to aid the female workforce, economy, education, health and food security.

What will be the challenges for the Summit?

The challenges are how we can simplify such abstract concepts into concrete deliverables that are
relevant to public’s needs.

In picking the theme, we also underline the needs to make it in line with our national interests, which includes infrastructure development. Proper infrastructure means excellent connectivity and smoother flow of goods, services and people. This will accelerate economic growth. Good connectivity will also contribute to better regional economic integration.

How will the Summit expand Indonesia’s international clout?

Indonesia views Apec as a forum to exercise our leadership in Asia Pacific for economic diplomacy.

We want to see how the Summit’s outcomes can address current challenges at a time when the global economic crisis still persists. We aim to map out measures to help the region attain two things: maintaining strong growth and swift recovery at a time when members are confronted with economic hardship.

Our success to chair Apec is measured by our ability to generate visionary and practical deliverables. We try to encourage frameworks on infrastructure development and investment because it is essential to economic growth, job creation and economic recovery. We have a big idea that we are currently designing — the Apec Framework on Connectivity. It will cover physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity.

The framework, along with multi-year plans for infrastructure development and investment, will be our flagship projects. We are now proposing our initial draft to be discussed during the upcoming third Senior Officials Meeting [scheduled between June 22 until July 6 in Medan, North Sumatra].

We’re now preparing preliminary concepts from a number of the deliverables that we will pass to Apec economies in order to gain inputs and finalisation so that they will be ready for discussion during the Summit in Bali.

For instance, Indonesia proposes an idea for disaster management. We have an Emergency Response Travel Facility, which offers special visas. Asia Pacific suffers many natural disasters. If a disaster occurs, such as the earthquake in Japan or massive flooding in Thailand, the economy will be affected and investment will be disrupted.

We’re trying to find solutions to aid emergency responses. This is related to the flow in immigration and in custom and excise agencies. We want to address these deliverables to better promote disaster management and mitigation.


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