Amsterdam, August 17, 2022– Ms. Ardi Stoios-Braken, took over from colleague Mr. Hans de Brabander, head of economic affairs at the Dutch embassy in Jakarta on 1 July: ‘The Dutch embassy in Jakarta has a political, economic, consular and cultural department. In total we have 68 fte of seconded and local staff.”
De Brabander: ‘The importance of economic cooperation between the Netherlands and Indonesia has increased in recent years.
The two countries have moved from aid to trade. In 2020, the development of the cooperative relationship came to an end. Now it is about trade and investment promotion and economic diplomacy.
For example, together with the Indonesian government, we are looking at how we can make the investment climate here as attractive as possible.
Other trade policy topics are also regularly discussed.”
How is the Indonesian economy doing?
De Brabander: ‘It is strong and resilient, with a large consumer market. Before the corona crisis, economic growth was 5.4 percent per year. During the pandemic, of course, this fell somewhat, partly because the country had to redirect part of the state budget for social support.
Now that Indonesia is out of lockdown, the economy is cautiously recovering.
The aim is to attract more industry and investment and import less.
Indonesia wants to add value to raw materials itself – and not just export it. For example, there is now an export ban for nickel, because the country wants to make batteries from it itself.
There are also challenges: the economy must make the transition to green and circular. It will take time and money to replace polluting industry and fossil fuels. For example, coal-fired power stations are still being built.”
Stoios-Braken: ‘Indonesia is chairing the G20 this year.
The G20 summit of world leaders will take place in Bali in November.
Prior to that, KADIN, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, is organizing the B20 business meeting on 13 and 14 November.
It is emphatically the intention to involve smaller companies in this as well. KADIN announced this at the end of May during a visit to VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland.’
Which Dutch companies does Indonesia need?
Stoios-Braken: ‘Business opportunities mainly lie in the sectors
life science & health,
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circular economy (particularly waste management).
Last May, the embassy organized an agriculture and energy mission to Medan and in June there was an incoming trade mission for the health sector.
Twelve Dutch companies and two knowledge institutes took part in the latter.’
De Brabander: ‘In 2018, Indonesia and the Netherlands agreed to work together in the field of healthcare.
The country faces the task of providing high-quality care to 277 million inhabitants, who live spread over 17,500 islands.
And just like elsewhere in the world, healthcare must remain affordable in the future. Digital care was therefore one of the focal points of the trade mission.’
What can you do for entrepreneurs who want to take the plunge?
Stoios-Braken: ‘Our call is: come to us. Or contact the Netherlands Business Support Office in Surabaya.
Entrepreneurs often experience this threshold as high, but that is not necessary. They can contact us for information about the broad economic context, their specific sector and the (practical) dos and don’ts of doing business in Indonesia.
Conversely, we like it when Dutch entrepreneurs tell us what they encounter here.’
De Brabander: ‘We have good contacts with the Indonesian government, so we can raise matters if necessary. In addition, we can help companies find local partners. Matchmaking is part of all trade missions. For this we use KADIN’s extensive network.’
What is your advice for these entrepreneurs?
Stoios-Braken: ‘Take the time to build up a personal network.
Don’t expect success tomorrow or next month: doing business in Indonesia is a matter of patience.
Show interest and appreciation for the culture, for example put on a nice tie-dyed shirt instead of a suit and have delicious Indonesian food with your contacts.’
De Brabander: ‘Use the knowledge of companies that have been active here for a long time. This can be done, for example, through the Dutch Business Network Indonesia (DBN), to which companies are affiliated that have a link with the Netherlands. Finally: do not romanticize the special relationship between the Netherlands and Indonesia. Indonesians look ahead and choose their products and services based on value for money – not on the basis of their shared past.”