Buoyed by the country’s robust economic growth in recent years, business missions from Ireland and South Africa are visiting Indonesia to explore untapped business potential in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.
Brendan Howlin, the Irish minister for public expenditure and reform, said on Thursday that Indonesia would soon become Ireland’s new focus for trade and investment cooperation as it gained recognition for its growing economic importance. “It [Indonesia] is a country with which we have the beginnings of a good trading relationship, but it’s modest enough, so it can be much deeper,” he told The Jakarta Post in an interview in Jakarta.
Last year overall bilateral trade between Indonesia and Ireland totaled €162 million (US$209.5 million), up 16 percent from 2011, according to Irish statistics. Indonesia shipped €97.4 million worth of goods, up 15.5 percent from 2011, to Ireland, mainly made up of clothing, footwear and animal feed.
Meanwhile, Indonesia imported around €64.9 million worth of goods from Ireland, up 18 percent from a year earlier, with dairy products contributing 20 percent to the overall figure.
In terms of investment, Howlin said that Indonesia had plenty of sectors in which Irish investors would be keen to invest, particularly transportation, telecommunications and agriculture.
“Transportation is a major issue in Indonesia. New technology can facilitate transportation systems, and we have developed in Ireland a lot of such technology,” Howlin said.
Irish technology and services in the transportation sector, especially the aviation sector, has received global recognition. These include in-flight entertainment and cabin interiors, cockpit technology, composites, and maintenance, repair and overhaul activities.
During the day, Howlin also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Irish telecommunications firm, Tango Telecom, and Indonesia’s major cellular provider, PT XL Axiata Tbk. with its local partners PT Lintas Teknologi. This move will allow Tango to provide a messaging platform for PT XL Axiata.
Separately, the government of the Eastern Cape province in South Africa and a South African business delegation from the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce also met their Indonesian counterparts to discuss new business opportunities available in Indonesia and South Africa.
Noxolo Kiviet, the premier of the Eastern Cape province, expected that cooperation between business people from South Africa and Indonesia could take place in a variety of areas, including property, logistics and finance.
“What we expect is for businesses here to be able to go and invest in South Africa, and for South African businesses to come and invest here,” she told the Post in an interview.
South Africa has been one of the new markets that Indonesian business players are working on more intensively amid market diversification moves encouraged by the government in the past two years.
Non-oil and gas exports to South Africa grew by 16.72 percent to $236.4 million last year from a year earlier as against a drop in overall exports.
The South African business mission offered investment opportunities in the installment of logistics storage in Richards Bay seaport to facilitate Indonesian exports, the development of cotton plantations and the procurement of agricultural equipment, according to Deputy Trade Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi.