Looking South Episode #28 – Focus on Indonesia

In this week’s installment of Looking South, Eric Gau speaks with Mitah Farid, Director of Trade at the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office in Taipei, about bilateral ties under the New Southbound Policy.


Eric Gau: Good morning everyone. I’m Eric Gau, and you’re listening to Looking South here on ICRT. Today, we’re looking at the state of relations between Taiwan and Indonesia under the New Southbound Policy, with Mr. Mitah Farid, Director of Trade at the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office in Taipei. Mr. Mitah, welcome to the program.

Mitah Farid: Good morning.

Eric: How would you describe the current state of ties between Taiwan and Indonesia?

Mitah: Actually, Taiwan is one of Indonesia’s important partners. Taiwan is one of the priority countries that India would like to have deeper and expanded trade and investment relations with. As a reflection of the close relationship between Indonesia and Taiwan, Indonesia will next year conduct ‘Indonesia Week” in March in TWTC Trade Center. Indonesia Week, as an international exhibition, is not only an exhibition, but will also have business matching, cultural performances and also business forums. As well as Taiwan, we will conduct a Taiwan expo in Indonesia. Actually, Indonesia and Taiwan have a close relationship since the New Southbound Policy was implemented under President Tsai’s era.

Eric: What has changed or what has improved over the past year that the Taiwan government under president Tsai as you just mentioned, has been pursuing its New Southbound Policy?

Mitah: Indonesia and Taiwan have started to establish cooperation and collaboration joint through committee meetings on trade and investment. Also, we have conducted annually-meeting Taiwan-Indonesia Industrial Collaboration Summit. In the agriculture sector, we also have consultation meetings between Indonesia and Taiwan. And last week, we had a buyer mission from Taiwan to Indonesia, and also we conducted business forums and exhibitions. All of this is expected to increase investment and industrial cooperation for Taiwan and Indonesia. And of course for the Indonesia side, Indonesia hopes and expects to fulfil Taiwan market needs through penetration of our creative and unique products. The New Southbound Policy should be regarded as momentum to make the bilateral relationship closer, and of course benefit to parties from Taiwan and Indonesia. We believe that all our cooperation are great opportunities to generate more outcomes to strengthen the good relationship between Indonesia and Taiwan. Not only on economic issues, but also in many sectors such as education, culture, and labor. Taiwan nowadays already hosts more than 250,000 Indonesian workers here and more than 5,000 Indonesian students here, so this is important for us that Taiwan can look at Indonesia as an important partner.

Eric: Where has the biggest impact from that policy been felt in your country so far?

Mitah: In our opinion, the New Southbound Policy’s impact for Indonesia in terms of tourism, from January until June 2017, Taiwan travelers visiting Indonesia reached over 97,000 tourists. Last year, Taiwanese tourists to Indonesia reached more than 188,000. The increasing number of Taiwan tourists to Indonesia year-on-year is due to a visa-waiver policy from my government. Regarding other sectors like investment, from 2012 to the first semester of 2017, Taiwan placed as the 13th largest country investing in Indonesia, amounting to 1.17 billion US dollars. This number increased more than 200% year-on-year, and even already exceeds the total of Taiwanese investment in 2016. In recent years, the Indonesia government has undertaken many economic policy reforms to improve our business competitiveness. That’s why Taiwan is looking at Indonesia as a destination for investment. And I want to say one more thing, because it is also important in terms of trade performance: While at the global level, where the economy is actually slowing down, but the total trade between Indonesia and Taiwan, particularly for the first semester of 2017, grew more than 16% compared to the same period of 2016. However, for sustainability of trade between the two countries, we need to think more strategically to make a bilateral trade cooperation that is less determined by the global economic condition to achieve the commonly-desired trade relation between Indonesia and Taiwan. I think there are many big impacts on Indonesia from Taiwan policy, particularly the New Southbound Policy.

Eric: How would you like to see bilateral cooperation strengthened further under the policy?

Mitah: Many conversation at the higher levels from Indonesia and Taiwan have taken place recently, and the objective remains the same, that is bringing our bilateral trade and investment relationship to the next level. We encourage ourselves to explore all the possibilities to develop partnership, and aim at not only Indonesia or Taiwan, but also regional and global markets, especially as many analysts believe that the global trade and investment growth will continue to be modest next year and beyond. Our conversation at higher levels is under the Joint Committee Meeting on Trade and Investment, and within the joint committee meeting, there are many cooperation initiatives, such as e-commerce cooperation, Halal certificate cooperation, standardization cooperation, and many more. So we see that bilateral cooperation between Taiwan and Indonesia is more strategic, to improve our economic performance for both parties.

Eric: We’ve been chatting with IETO head of Trade Mr. Mitah Farid. Mr. Mitah, thank you for joining us on the air today.

Mitah: Thank you, thank you.

Eric: And that’s it for this week’s episode of Looking South. I’m Eric Gau, and thank you all for listening.

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