AUSTRALIA can no longer stay oblivious to investment and export opportunities right on their doorstep, according to Ambassador of Indonesia, His Excellency Mr Nadjib Riphat Kesoema.
His Excellency Mr Kesoema was a keynote speaker at last week’s Asian Market Forum held at James Cook University’s University Hall Conference Room on October 24.
He said Australia and Indonesia are at an important crossroads right now, and that Australia can no longer stay oblivious to a market of 250,000 million people on their doorstep.
“The proximity between Indonesia and Australia at its closest – point to point, land to land – is less than 250km, that’s less than the distance from Sydney to Canberra,” His Excellency said.
“The aftermath of the live cattle export ban to Indonesia may have disrupted Australian businesses, but what it exposed was the inter-connectedness of two of the largest countries in the region,” he said.
In terms of cross-border relations, His Excellency said there was a need to turn a stable relationship into a vibrant one and Mr Abbott’s recent visits to Jakarta and Bali at the beginning of October were “very successful.”
His Excellency said the Indonesian consumer confidence index was one of the highest in the last few years, and was largely driven by a middle class population of 60 million people.
“There has been a lifestyle change due to an opportunity for the middle class to see global information – the lifestyle of western people like in Australia.”
With Indonesia’s middle class population expected to increase to 90 million people in the next 20 years, a strong consumer confidence index, and a growing appetite for meat, His Excellency said Australia should gear up “not for the mining boom, but the dining boom.”
“Now is the time to see the opportunity (to invest in Indonesia) ahead of the US. At present, Australia has direct investments to the UK of $7.8b and I understand the historical ties.
“On the other hand, Australia’s investment in all of Asia is only $6.26b. Of this, Indonesia with more than 240,000 million people, accounts for less than $1b.
“Currently, we are a small partner, but we don’t want to be discouraged.”
His Excellency said Indonesian company Santori’s recent purchase of 550,000 hectares in the Northern Territory with the acquisition of Inverway and Riveren was a huge step in the right direction for Indonesia.
“I have already had three companies who have contacted me to discuss the opportunity of foreign investment and I will certainly introduce them to the cattle industry of the Northern Territory and northern parts of Queensland.
“My goal is to see Australian investment in Indonesia that is at least proportional and properly reflecting the proximity and allegiance so far achieved.”
His Excellency said although Australia and Indonesia are very close, they are also very different both historically and culturally and that “all talk must be accompanied by smart action.”
He said both the Indonesian government and its people were “just shocked” when Australia unilaterally stopped live cattle exports to their country in 2011.
“As your Prime Minister Tony Abbott mentioned, it won’t be repeated again in the future – that is an important commitment for the Australian government to do that.
“In terms of self-sufficiency, we struggle, we strive, but we understand the reality is not supporting the idea. That’s why we needed to reopen the live cattle imports.”
His Excellency said while the future of the live cattle trade was still uncertain, the relationship between Australia and Indonesia was on the right path.
“If you compare 2011 to 2012, there was a huge increase in Australian investment into Indonesia from only $85 million to more than $700 million. That’s what we want, a more stable and continued growth.
“We may not be the stereotypical business partner, but in terms of population we are bigger than New York, bigger than London, than anywhere in the world.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.