President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono met with German President Joachim Gauck and business leaders on Monday following his arrival in Berlin on Sunday night for a state visit to follow up on key points of cooperation raised in Jakarta last July.
Yudhoyono, whose entourage includes Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan and Industry Minister M.S. Hidayat, said it was important for Indonesia, the 15th biggest economy in the world, to strengthen ties with Germany, the biggest economy in the euro zone and No. 4 in the world.
He noted that the bilateral trade balance was slightly in Germany’s favor, with German exports to Indonesia last year valued at $3.3 billion, and Indonesian exports to Germany valued at $2.59 billion.
But Yudhoyono also stressed the need for more investment by German companies in Indonesia, pointing out that in 2012 it only amounted to $75 million.
“We need to push for not just more trade, but also more investment,” he said following one-on-one talks with the chief executives of carmaker Volkswagen, electronics giant Siemens and Ferrostaal, an industrial service company.
His talk with Gauck focused on partnerships in trade and investment, defense, research and technology, health and education, which were conceived during a visit to Indonesia by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, last July.
The “Jakarta Declaration” also covers food and energy resilience and cooperation in the transportation sector.
“All stakeholders must be on board [for the partnership to work]. The governments, legislators, businesses, people and mass media [of both countries] must work together to help push for the progress of our peoples,” Yudhoyono said.
The president is scheduled to hold talks with Merkel today, in which the points in the Jakarta Declaration will also be high on the agenda.
The two leaders are also expected to announce the names of members of the Indonesia-German Advisory Group, a gathering of eminent figures from both countries.
Also on Tuesday, Yudhoyono is scheduled to open the International Tourism Bourse, the world’s biggest travel show, with Merkel. The Indonesian government says some 143,000 Germans visited Indonesia last year, but insists that there is potential for even higher numbers.
During his German visit, Yudhoyono is also scheduled to meet with Horst Kohler, a former German president, and Klaus Wowereit, the mayor of Berlin.
He will head to Budapest later on Tuesday for a three-day state visit to Hungary that is expected to “revitalize” Indonesia’s bilateral relationship with “one of the key nations” in central and eastern Europe, Teuku Faizasyah, the president’s spokesman for foreign affairs, said on Friday.
“Hungary has a strategic position to Indonesia as an entrance for Indonesia’s economic interests to the east and central Europe regions,” he said.
Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said on Friday that the president was mulling a weapons deal with Hungary. “In the past, the Indonesian military often used weaponry from the Eastern Bloc states,” he said after a meeting with Yudhoyono in Jakarta.
Faizasyah said that Yudhoyono’s meeting with the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, would discuss efforts to boost bilateral relations, specifically in the economic sector.