Jakarta. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Wednesday the Indonesian international relations will put a greater emphasis on economic agenda amid the global economic slowdown and growing protectionism among major economies, as she outlined her ministry’s new priorities.
“For the next five years, the economic diplomacy will be intensified. Deputy foreign minister [Mahendra Siregar] has been given a special assignment by the president to strengthen the economic diplomacy,” Retno said in an annual gathering with the press and foreign ambassadors at the Foreign Affairs Ministry compound in Central Jakarta.
She said the heads of all Indonesian foreign missions were called back to Jakarta this week for a special meeting discussing this particular issue and to receive "concrete tasks" of supporting the economic development at home.
Following next in the order of importance are to protect Indonesian citizens; to safeguard Indonesian sovereignty and national identity; and to enhance Indonesia’s leadership at the regional and global stage. An extra task under the so-called “4+1 priorities” is to expand and modernize the diplomatic infrastructures, she said.
Indonesia is pursuing a wider global and regional economic cooperation beyond the regional economic bloc Asean. This year alone, the country will be busy hosting a series of business forums.
They include the World Economic Forum on Asean and the Indo Pacific; the Halal Industry Summit; the International Conference on Digital Diplomacy; the 2nd Indonesia, Latin America and the Caribbean Business Forum; Indonesia-Middle East Energy Forum; and the 5th World Cocoa Forum, Retno said.
“We are consistently pursuing economic collaborations based on fairness and win-win solution over zero-sum game,” Retno said.
Indonesia has encouraged Asean to expand the regional economic cooperation to the Indo Pacific region in a proposal that was approved by the group’s summit in Bangkok last year.
“Indo-Pacific is the present and the future of sustainable global growth,” Retno said.
She added the country had valuable assets in the forms of huge markets and a large proportion of productive age in a population of more than 270 million.
“These assets should become a distinct advantage that we can capitalize on when establishing mutually beneficial economic cooperation with other countries,” she said.
$14b Global Investment
As part of the economic diplomacy, the envoys will do their best to protect and facilitate Indonesian outbound investments around the world and expand global markets for Indonesian goods and services, Retno said.
“An initial calculation by the Foreign Affairs Ministry found that there are at least 285 outbound investment deals involving Indonesian companies, worth around $14.3 billion,” Retno said.
Several Indonesian companies have expanded their businesses overseas, including ride-hailing firm Gojek, state-run oil company Pertamina, noodle maker Indofood, pharmaceutical companies Kimia Farma and Dexa Medika and food manufacturers Mayora and Nutrifood.
Retno used the occasion to detail achievements by Indonesian foreign missions during her first five years leading the ministry.
“In the last five years, we freed 45 Indonesian hostages, although one hostage is still being held by the captors,” Retno said. A recent rescue operation by the Philippine has saved two of three Indonesians held by the Abu Sayyaf group in the neighboring country.
Retno added 27,033 legal cases involving Indonesian abroad were settled and 25 death penalty cases were exonerated.
“We will strengthen bilateral mechanisms and our consular offices to protect Indonesian citizens abroad,” she said.