Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Monday (12/02) ordered Indonesian diplomats to boost efforts in economic diplomacy, especially in non-traditional markets, and touched on the importance of internal reform and meticulous planning to capitalize on the country’s potential.
"We must boost efforts in economic diplomacy: to seize opportunities in non-traditional markets and to be more tenacious and serious in this endeavor," Jokowi said during a meeting with the chiefs of Indonesian missions abroad at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
One hundred and thirty-four heads of Indonesian missions, including ambassadors and consuls general, attended the meeting, which focused on palm oil, protection of Indonesians abroad and Indonesia's campaign for a non-permanent membership at the United Nations Security Council.
Jokowi, who visited South Asian countries last month, said he was surprised to discover that Indonesia has yet to tap into potential markets like Pakistan and Bangladesh, both of which are home to more than 190 million and 160 million people, respectively.
According to the president, keys to a country’s economic growth are in investments and exports. Therefore, efforts to increase these values must also be met with consistency, sustainability and hard work.
"Don’t feel as if we’re a small country. We must be ready to invest, so our efforts must be synergized between attracting investors but also making investments in other countries," Jokowi said.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told reporters that the challenges ahead lie in fixing internal procedures, which will be done in parallel with promoting Indonesian products to potential markets.
In April, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will host the inaugural Indonesia-Africa Forum (IAF) in Bali, which aims to facilitate closer relations between Indonesian companies and their counterparts from African countries, as part of an effort to increase penetration to non-traditional markets.
Retno said that Indonesian missions abroad will have clearer targets in the future, including by identifying potential products suitable for each market and by planning ahead on how to promote those items to foreign buyers.
The Indonesian embassy in Singapore, which utilized a modern system to simplify product details and ordering, will serve as a template for other embassies to implement something similar.
"Our diplomatic approach must adjust to present challenges, it must be fast and responsive, not the sort of diplomacy that spends money, but one that makes money," Jokowi said.
During his speech, the president also instructed the chiefs of Indonesian missions to improve their services, and chided on how some embassies still take weeks or months to process visas and permits.
He added that reforms are possible, but that the problems must first be identified and managed continuously so that it will become common practice.
"The world has changed, these services shouldn’t take as long as they used to. We should be ashamed because these matters should only take hours, or even minutes," Jokowi said.