Indonesia is Too Big to Lean on Any Superpower: Minister
Jakarta. Indonesia is too big to lean on any superpower, and it is willing to partner with anyone —and not just China— to develop its downstream industries, including an end-to-end electric vehicle (EV) value chain, according to Chief Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.
Luhut said he had recently visited China, whose advanced technologies and research funding left the minister impressed. The minister said a Chinese university could get $450 million in research funding, demonstrating the country’s seriousness in developing new industrial technologies. The China trip, however, sparked questions from its major power rival the United States.
“Some of my very good friends from the U.S. asked ‘why did I go there [to China]?’, but I’m being very pragmatic here. We will go to whoever can share their technologies and invest [in Indonesia]. But we'd also love to go to the U.S. or anywhere,” Luhut told the 2023 Jakarta Geopolitical Forum on Wednesday.
"This country is too big to lean on any superpower," he said.
Luhut also told the forum that he had been telling his counterparts in other countries to keep their hands off Indonesia’s territorial integrity. He said: “We have to respect the international laws. That is the basis of Indonesia.”
A government roadmap for Indonesia’s end-to-end EV value chain includes a number of global players, including China’s CATL and South Korea's LG Energy Solution for battery manufacturing.
“We are an open country,” Luhut said.
The industrial downstream plan —which started out with a nickel ore export ban— also puts Indonesia on track to become a high-income country by 2030, according to Luhut.
Indonesia has banned exports of unprocessed nickel ores in favor of processing the raw mineral domestically. The government reported that the export of processed nickel products had totaled $33.8 billion in value throughout last year. The exports were mostly iron and steel ($14.3 billion), followed by ferronickel/nickel pig iron ($13.5 billion).
Indonesia has exported $11 billion worth of processed nickel products as of M4-2023 year-to-date. Ferronickel/nickel pig iron dominated the exports, totaling around $4.8 billion.
“If we did not build our downstream industries years ago, we would not have achieved robust economic growth," Luhut said.
"If our economy is not doing well, I doubt we would be able to hold our heads high,” Luhut added.