Friday, September 18, 2015


Jakarta, Sept 18 , 2015(Antara)- Following a five-day trip by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to three wealthy Arab countries - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar - the government is keen to enact agreements signed with those nations.  
    Saudi Arabia is Indonesia's largest trading partner in the Middle East, while the UAE is the main destination for Indonesian exports in the Middle East, and Qatar is the largest investor among Middle Eastern countries in Indonesia, including for its portfolio investments.

         The visit from Sept. 11 to 15 was aimed not only at opening greater access for Indonesian commodities in Middle Eastern markets, but also at encouraging investors from the three countries to make direct investments in Indonesia, particularly in infrastructure, maritime and energy sectors.
         Jokowi has assigned Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said to follow up on the agreements in investment, economics and investment cooperation signed between Indonesia and the three Arab nations.

         He received a warm welcome and held a series of meetings with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, indicating the intention of those countries to step up cooperation with Indonesia.
         During his trip to the Middle East, President Jokowi was accompanied by Coordinating Minister for Economy Darmin Nasution, Trade Minister Thomas Lembong, National Development Planning Minister/National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) Chief Sofjan Djalil, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno P. Marsudi, and presidential special envoy to the Middle East Alwi Shihab.
         Of note, the Indonesian and Saudi governments are exploring cooperation in the fields of infrastructure and finance.
         Indonesia's cabinet secretary, Pramono Anung, told newsmen on the sidelines of President Joko Widodo's visit to Saudi Arabia on Sept. 12 that Jokowi and King Salman bin Abdulaziz discussed various issues during their meeting at the Al-Salam Diwan Malaki Palace here.
         He said, during the meeting, that King Salman immediately ordered a follow up by instructing the Saudi ministers of defense, manpower and financial affairs to meet and discuss in more detail expanded cooperation with President Joko Widodo.
         "The King also ordered the Minister of Financial Affairs, the Minister of  Hajj Affairs and the Minister of Defense to discuss needed cooperation. This visit is different from those undertaken by the head of state in the past, since discussions were more detailed about infrastructure, trade and finance," he said. 
    Pramono Anung said, during the meeting, that President Joko Widodo also made an appeal for granting a pardon to four Indonesian citizens currently facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.    
    Later, Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz awarded the King Abdulaziz medal to President Jokowi Widodo at the Al-Salam Diwan Malaki Palace.

         "The President appreciates the Saudi King for his extraordinary greeting. It is rare for the King to greet (his state guests) at the aircraft door," Anung told the press.
         In Jeddah, Jokowi also received the president of Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Dr Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani, at the King Faisal Palace.
         The IDB is in the process of drafting a US$5 billion financing program to establish strategic cooperation with its member states.
         "We had asked for input at the meeting with President (Joko Widodo), and Indonesia is interested in the field of infrastructure and agriculture," IDB President D.R. Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani told the press after the meeting.
         At the meeting, Mohammed and President Widodo also discussed the role played by Indonesia to improve capacity building among IDB members.
         "Actually, Indonesia has done that under the framework of the South-South cooperation. Of course, it will not be difficult for other IDB member states to follow suit," he said.
         He further praised Indonesia for its role in the IDB. Indonesia is not only one of IDB's founders, but is also active in various activities involving member states.
          At the meeting, he also unveiled a plan to hold a meeting of central bank governors of IDB member states in Jakarta in May 2016, and hoped President Widodo would open the meeting.
         After meeting with the IDB president, President Widodo met with the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Iyad Madani. 
    From Saudi Arabia, President Jokowi paid a two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Sept 13-14, where the President was welcomed by Prince Mohammed bin Sayed Al Nahyan during a state ceremony.

          President Jokowi directly held bilateral meetings with the Prince and witnessed the signing of a cooperation document between the Indonesian and UAE governments.
         In Dubai, Jokowi visited a container seaport and an aluminum processing plant. The president closely observed the seaport's management, which is run in an efficient and timely manner.
         "We have prepared the guidelines for cooperation for the dry port in Surabaya, and we will also develop them in Tanjung Api-api. I have ordered a two-week survey, and in Jakarta we have decided to implement it immediately," Jokowi noted, while visiting Dubai Port World.
         The head of state thereafter visited an aluminum processing plant to explore cooperation in aluminum processing in Asahan.
         Indonesia has invited Dubai Port and Dubai Aluminum to invest in, and develop seaports and an aluminum processing plant in Indonesia, as Dubai has the capability and experience in these fields.
         "They also have the experience and an international network of logistic companies. If we could do this, the logistics cost will drop and, consequently, prices will be lower and competitive," the president pointed out.
         In Abu Dhabi on the evening of Sept. 13, the president visited Lulu supermarket, which sells Indonesian products.     
    "I just want to see more Indonesian products such as onions, papayas, mangos, and also factory products in the market. I have urged retailers having outlets spread across countries to add more Indonesian products," Jokowi remarked.

         Jokowi was accompanied by the owner of Lulu when checking Indonesian products being offered in the supermarket, which has some 150 outlets across the Arab peninsula.
         He also met Indonesians working in the Middle East country, while in the supermarket. Some 100 Indonesians waited a few hours before the president¿s arrival in Lulu.
         From the UAE, he proceeded to Qatar on Sept. 14, to seek cooperation that could help boost economic growth and infrastructure development.
         "I invite you to join hands with us to develop cooperation in all fields, such as economy, culture and human relations," the president said at an Indonesia-Qatar Business and Investment Forum event held in Doha.
         President Joko Widodo said business opportunities in Indonesia promised a conducive business atmosphere and certainty of earning profits.
          During his speech, President Joko Widodo also explained how large-scale national projects, especially infrastructure projects, are being carried out in Indonesia and that they needed private investment.
         Meanwhile, Qatar's Economic Minister, Sheikh Ahmad bin Jasim al Thany, said Indonesia is a country that offers good investment opportunities.
        "The relations between Qatar and Indonesia will make the development of opportunities between the two countries possible and help forge better relations," he said.
         Following the event, President Widodo met a number of Qatari business leaders, including the Chief of the Qatar National Bank, Ali Ahmed Al Kuari, and the Chief of Qatar's Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sheikh Halifa.
        Upon returning to Jakarta on Sept. 16, President Jokowi said that he wanted, within a month, a list of projects with details ready for implementation, as the results of his visit.
         According to Minister Sudirman Said, there are a number of cooperation agreements to be followed up immediately, citing agreement between PJB, the subsidiary of the state power utility company PLN, and Nebras Power of Qatar.
          Nebras agreed to build gas power plants with a capacity of 2x250 megawatts in North Sumatra, at a cost of some US$750 million.
         Meanwhile, Pertamina signed an agreement with Saudi oil company Aramco to increase output at Pertamina's oil refineries in Cilacap,  Balongan  and  Dumai, costing  US$11.5 billion.
         The capacity optimization of the three refineries is expected to increase the processing capacity of  the country's oil refineries by 450,000 barrels per day.
         Aramco also had made an investment commitment of US$12.8 billion to build two new oil refineries, Sudirman said. 
   "Middle East investors are also interested in investing in port infrastructure. The opportunity is being studied with Pelindo III. We offer various projects in Lombok. The prospects are also good for financial cooperation," he said.

        Sudirman said he would form a team with members from the business sector and officials of government agencies to handle the job of seeking to bring to reality all investment agreements. ***3***

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