Exclusive Interview with Mr. Andrinof A. Chaniago – Indonesia’s National Development Minister
EUBULLETIN: The European Union has just emerged from the euro crisis. As a Minister for National Development, how has in your view this crisis affected the relationship between the EU and Indonesia? For example, are European companies now less interested to invest in Indonesia?
Chaniago: In my view, the euro crisis has not really been that serious. We believe that the European economies will recover soon and I believe that with its high-quality human resources and other resources, European Union will find a solution to its problems. And therefore I think the crisis will not have a serious negative impact on the bilateral relationship with my country, Indonesia. Also because Europe has many things that can be promoted, that can be used, that can be optimalized to improve the cooperation between Indonesia and European countries. European countries can share their experience, for instance, in sustainable development, in green development, renewable energy, and many things – European expertise in all these areas is very relevant to cooperation between Indonesia and European countries. Therefore, I think there are many opportunities.
EUBULLETIN: I understand that you also discussed prospective collaboration with several European companies and governments in the area of transportation and energy during your recent trip to Europe.
Chaniago: Yes, of course. In energy sector, for example, our current administration (President Joko Widodo) will build many power plants in many different areas around Indonesia and, of course, to achieve this goal, we need support from and cooperation with foreign countries and foreign investors. We need to improve and accelerate significantly our electricity grid – we have a big agenda in this field – and therefore, we need technical assistance and investment because more than 50 percent of the power plants will hopefully be financed and supported by private investment. That is seen, for example, in road construction, railway construction, seaport and airport constructions – for more than 50 percent of them we will need the support from foreign investors.
EUBULLETIN: We have so far talked about foreign investment in Indonesia. How do you see the future of Indonesian companies investing in Europe? For example, if look at Indian and Chinese companies, the Chinese government has in recent years even officially urged Chinese companies to venture out of the country and invest in other parts of the world, including in Europe.
Chaniago: Of course, Indonesian businessmen and companies have some advantages in some fields or sectors, including furniture, fisheries – we have expertise in these areas. I think with this expertise, our businessmen can try to penetrate the European market and aim at creating bilateral cooperation between both regions. Each country has their own competitive advantage in its own field. European countries also need a number of Indonesian products, for example, plantation products, agricultural products, coffee, cocoa, or also CPO (Crude Palm Oil).
EUBULLETIN: Finally, you were recently a keynote speaker at a workshop in Copenhagen that focused on public-private investment. What was the main message in your speech that you sought to deliver to the audience there?
Chaniago: The main message there was about Indonesian development strategy for the next five years. We were talking about a new concept of sustainable development and at that event I said that in our view, sustainable development is composed of three elements – it must be environmentally friendly, socially inclusive and regionally or inter-regionally balanced. These are the three main components in our sustainable development concept. That was one of the most important points that I tried to convey to the audience in Copenhagen. Why I feel it was important to share this idea is because European countries are really, really concerned with green development and sustainable development but I think we in Indonesia need to enrich and bring it into the local context
EUBULLETIN: Do you sometime feel under pressure from Europe to implement its model of sustainable development?
Chaniago: In face, I saw in Copenhagen that [the European and Indonesian models] have even become mutually complementary when I said that we should consider social development as a basis for sustainable development besides environmental or ecosystem approach.
EUBULLETIN: Thank you very much for the interview.
Chaniago: You are welcome.