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UK sees Indonesia as strategic partner

Publication Date : 14-01-2013


The United Kingdom (UK) considers Indonesia an increasingly important partner globally and is committed to efforts to take bilateral relations to new heights, a trade envoy says.

Richard Graham, the newly appointed British trade envoy for Indonesia, said that as Indonesia, a new economic power in Asia following China and India, grew further, it would become a strategic partner for the UK in the future.

Progress of bilateral trade was “quite exciting” already, and the UK hoped to pursue more achievements by 2015, when bilateral trade was projected to reach 4.4 billion pounds (US$7.1 billion), he added.

The commitment to double trade figures was attained by both governments during the visit of British Prime Minister David Cameron and British Trade and Investment Minister Stephen Green last April.

“There’s much more that we can both do and although the target is quite ambitious, it’s much better to have an ambitious target and go for it. Let’s see what we can achieve in the next two-and-a-half year’s,” Graham, who was among eight envoys appointed in November to promote trade in high-growth and developing markets, said in an interview during his recent visit to Jakarta.

Graham said that in terms of investment, Indonesia offered myriad opportunities in infrastructure projects, particularly airports, roads and railways, apart from sectors where British companies already had a significant presence, such as oil and gas, finance and banking and insurance.

Bilateral trade between Indonesia and the UK settled at $2.89 billion in 2011, after surging by 6.61 per cent from $2.11 billion in 2007. Between January and October last year, trade was valued at $2.61 billion, up 8.44 per cent from a year earlier, according to Trade Ministry statistics.

British companies, such as oil and gas company BP and consumer goods company Unilever, have been among the top foreign investors in Indonesia. From January to September last year, the UK invested $900 million in Indonesia, making it the fourth-largest spender in the archipelago.

Graham said that to markedly boost business activities between two countries, he expected the opening of direct non-stop Jakarta-London flights in October.

Apart from that, a priority visa service for regular Indonesian business travellers to Britain has been available since last May. Efforts to further economic activities in both directions will considerably be helped by a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (Cepa) between Indonesia and the European Union, according to Graham.

Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said that Indonesia aimed to start the negotiations on the Cepa during the visit of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to Brussels, Belgium, in March. The partnership talks were planned to start in November, but were delayed.

“The UK is one of the most important global economic powers so it is an appropriate partner to support Indonesia’s climb up the value chain. We are optimistic our cooperation will realise this goal,” he said.

Indonesia expects new investments from the UK in a wide range of areas, including education, creative industry, infrastructure, transportation and energy, which are basically in line with the goals to create more value-added business.

As both countries aspired to cement a long-term cooperative relationship, Indonesia and the UK would in the middle of this year form a group of eminent persons comprising academics, government officials and business people to study concrete measures that could enhance collaboration on both sides until 2030, Gita further said.

“Recommendations by these eminent persons will serve as a reference for both governments,” he added.


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