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[Hello Indonesia] Green growth cements Korea-Indonesia ties

More than 1,000 participants attend Jakarta forum to explore vast business opportunities between two Asian nations

Dec. 3, 2023 - 17:54 By Park Han-na
Daewoo E&C Chairman Jung Won-ju (11th from left, front row), who doubles as chairman of Herald Corp., Gandi Sulistiyanto (on Jung’s left), Indonesian ambassador to Korea, and other government and company officials of Korea and Indonesia pose for a photo at the Korea-Indonesia Cooperation Forum held at a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- The partnership between South Korea and Indonesia has grown stronger over the decades through collaborative endeavors, common interests and trust, according to speakers at the Korea-Indonesia Economic Cooperation Forum.

Korea, a global powerhouse in science and technology, and Indonesia, one of the fastest-growing economies with large mineral reserves, mark half a century of diplomatic relations this year.

Key figures at the forum said the two nations' distinctive competitive edges would open up vast business opportunities in eco-friendly and digital economy sectors.

Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol touted the significant improvement the two countries have made as partners in trading and business projects and expressed expectations of steadfast relations in the coming decades.

“Now, the two countries must prepare a strategy for future common prosperity based on the mutual trust built over the past 50 years,” he said in a speech delivered by the South Korean Ambassador to Indonesia Lee Sang-deok at the event jointly hosted by Herald Corp., the publisher of The Korea Herald and Herald Business, and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Korean Embassy in Indonesia, the Indonesian Embassy in Korea, and the Indonesian Employers’ Association APINDO.

Under the theme "K-Wave and I-Wave, Together for the Future," more than 1,000 participants, including some 300 Indonesian government and company officials and 150 Korean business leaders, gathered at the event held at Hotel Mulia Senayan in Jakarta on Thursday.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Indonesian President Joko Widodo

Bilateral cooperation must be enhanced especially in stabilizing the supply chain for economic security and the transition to an eco-friendly, digital economy, Yoon said. He vowed to bolster human exchanges to build bonds between future generations, which are the basis for reciprocal collaboration between the two nations.

“Korea will be a strong partner in (President Joko Widodo’s vision of) ‘2045 Golden Indonesia’ to support Indonesia to become the fifth largest economy in the world,” Yoon said.

South Korea is the 13th-largest economy in the world by gross domestic product while Indonesia ranked 16th, according to data released by the Bank of Korea in July.

“The two countries are pursuing future national defense together through the joint development project for next-generation fighter jets, which symbolizes the highest level of trust between nations. Made-in-Indonesia electric vehicles produced jointly by both countries are leading the high-tech industrial cooperation,” he said.

In his video message, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the two Asian nations were "committed to developing an electric vehicle ecosystem," adding that Indonesia has a very promising outlook in that area as it has promising opportunities for electric vehicle batteries with abundant resources and a large market.

In September, the two leaders held a summit in Jakarta and agreed to deepen their strategic partnership in the security and defense industries and to expand cooperation in future-looking industries such as electric vehicles, batteries, and smart cities.

"Upon Yoon's visit to Indonesia in September, the range of two nations' collaborative areas widened from economic issues to defense," said Shinta Widjaja Kamdani, chairwoman of the Employers' Association of Indonesia.

She hoped that the event would serve its role as a platform where stakeholders from both countries can build a sustainable community and create various opportunities for cooperation in education and culture.

“Through Indonesia's strong and active automobile industry and environment and secondary battery industry based on nickel production, opportunities for cooperation between the two countries will increase in the future,” said Indonesia Upper House Speaker Bambang Soesatyo in a congratulatory remark.

Jung Won-ju, chairman of Daewoo E&C and Herald Corp., said the relationship between Seoul and Jakarta is closer than ever. "We look forward to the growth of key areas of cooperation that will create synergies for the future of both countries, such as electric vehicles, infrastructure construction and digital finance," he said while delivering his welcoming remarks.

Indonesia's Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko expressed expectations of Korea funneling more money into the rapidly growing, young economy.

Korea was the seventh-largest source of investment in Indonesia in 2022 with a total of $2.23 billion, up over 40 percent from a year ago.

The two countries have been working together on human resources and infrastructure development. Indonesia’s drive for bureaucratic reform and deregulation will offer greater opportunities for cooperation.

“Especially, Korea has well established its platform for green economy and there are opportunities to introduce it to Indonesia, so how to develop this economic cooperation is something we should continue to pay attention to over the next five years,” Moeldoko said.

In response to the climate crisis, the transition to low-carbon, eco-friendly energy sources has become an unavoidable task of the times, said Lee Ho-hyeon, the South Korean Trade Ministry's deputy minister for energy policy, pointing out that Korea had set a goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 and Indonesia had declared plans to reach net zero by 2060.

Energy cooperation between Indonesia and Korea starts with traditional fossil fuels such as bituminous coal and LNG, and is moving toward cooperation in the supply chain of key minerals for the transition to clean energy. It will expand to cooperation in carbon-free energy such as small modular reactors, hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage.

“If cooperation between the two countries expands to cooperation on carbon-free energy, the partnership between the two countries will go beyond mutual benefit and it can greatly contribute to responding to the global climate crisis," Lee said.

The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Acting Chairman Yukki Nugrahawan Hanafi touched upon the Indonesia-Korea Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, a bilateral agreement signed between the two nations which came into effect in January.

"Some $22 billion worth of welfare effects have been created by lowering trade barriers. The two nations are bringing about new outcomes from cooperating in economy and trade," he said.

Gandi Sulistiyanto, a member of the Presidential Advisory Council in Indonesia, lauded Korea's incomparable achievements in culture from pop music to movies and dramas.

He argued that Indonesia should expand the window of exchange with the Korean Wave beyond the cultural sector to artificial intelligence, digital and innovation sectors.