Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said Indonesia would capitalize on the strengthening of its domestic market and use it as leverage to increase the country's bargaining power. (Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Indonesia's Foreign Policy Priorities for the Next 5 Years

BY :NUR YASMIN

OCTOBER 29, 2019

Jakarta. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released details of Indonesia's foreign policy direction and priorities for the next five years on Tuesday.

"We live in a world full of uncertainty, which poses great challenges to all countries. We see rivalry for political influence, along with economic rivalry, while new conflicts continue to emerge," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in Jakarta.

She added that the protectionist trend also posed new challenges for global trade.

"Amid this upsurge in protectionism, Indonesia has much to be grateful for, as our economy is still growing at more than 5 percent. We have an incredible asset – a huge, growing domestic market. This will make the Indonesian economy indispensable in geo-economics in the future," Retno said.

She announced that Indonesia's foreign policy will be based on the following five priorities:

Economic Diplomacy

Retno said Indonesia would firstly capitalize on the strengthening of its domestic market and use it as leverage to increase the country's bargaining power.

"We must protect our domestic market from the dumping of products subsidized by foreign entities. This has increased due to the currently low global economic growth, and we must be wary of it," the minister said.

Indonesia will secondly focus on strengthening its traditional markets and entering new markets in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific for goods and services, investment and infrastructure development.

"Thirdly, we will strengthen our trade negotiations and investments. Over the next five years, we will accelerate comprehensive economic partnership agreements, free-trade agreements and preferential trade agreements with various countries," Retno said.

The minster added that then ministry would also bolster trade and investment promotion and encourage outbound investment.

"It is time for Indonesia to expand outbound investment internationally, in synergy with our national economic interests," Retno said.

Fifth, the ministry will optimize its diplomatic efforts to protect Indonesia's strategic economic interests, including palm oil exports.

"Indonesia's palm oil interests are fundamental, because they determine the fate of about 16 million people, particularly farmers and their families. We will continue to resist any discrimination against palm oil, because it not only harms our national interests, but also threatens the global population's need for palm oil," the minister said.

Lastly, the ministry will continue to bolster Indonesia's adoption of Industry 4.0, including the digital industry, creative economy and human resources development.

Citizen Protection

Retno said the ministry would integrate Peduli WNI, an online portal for Indonesians living abroad, with the religious affairs ministry's marriage management information system and the law and human rights ministry's electronic citizenship administration system.

"Once the integration is complete, we will have a single data portal for all Indonesians living abroad," Retno said.

The foreign ministry will further improve its governance to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration, and implement measures to protect Indonesian citizens abroad.

"As a preventive measure, we will educate the public to reduce the risk of human trafficking," she said.

National Sovereignty

Retno said the ministry would intensify efforts to settle border disputes through dialogue.

"Indonesia's sovereignty is non-negotiable. We will not back down one centimeter and always stand our ground," she said.

Regional and Global Leadership

Indonesia occupies a seat on the United Nations Security Council until 2020 and will assume the chairmanship of the global body in August next year. Then country will also serve on the UN Human Rights Council between 2020 and 2022, and chair both the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and the Group of 20 in 2023.

"Asean remains the pillar of Indonesia's foreign policy. We seek to ensure the implementation of the already adopted Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific over the next five years, so we will host the Asean Indo-Pacific Infrastructure and Connectivity Forum in 2020," Retno said.

She added that Indonesia wants to be a part of a solution and that it would therefore contribute to resolving various international issues, including in Myanmar's Rakhine State, Afghanistan, Palestine and the South China Sea.

Diplomacy Infrastructure 

Retno said Indonesia must strengthen its diplomacy infrastructure to achieve its foreign policy priorities.

"The focus is on bureaucratic reform, improvement of human resources quality, development of physical diplomacy infrastructure, use of technology and information, and digital transformation," the minister said.

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