For Indonesia’s Underdeveloped Eastern Province, SBY Looks Down Under
Arientha Primanita& Tito Summa Siahaan
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has urged Australian companies during his visit to the island nation to help bring in more capital to develop the investment-starved, lesser-developed eastern regions of Indonesia.
“With Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, we will focus the agenda on economy, namely the animal husbandry and infrastructure,” Yudhoyono said on Monday before leaving for Darwin, Australia.
Both leaders were scheduled to come together during the Second Annual Leaders Meeting. The last meeting between Indonesia and Australia was held in Bali last November.
Yudhoyono was accompanied by Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa and the governors from East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tengara and Papua provinces.
Eastern Indonesia is the least developed region in Indonesia.
Yudhoyono highlighted the development of infrastructure in eastern Indonesia and investment in cattle breeding.
“Recently, Indonesia bought cattle from Australia, which was against the government’s strategy of food independence,” he added.
The president said cooperation in cattle breeding would be handled between businesses, with the help from the central and regional governments.
Teuku Faizasyah, Yudhoyono’s spokesman for international relations, said talks between the two leaders would focus on economic relations.
“We will boost economic interaction and connectivity between eastern Indonesia and Australia’s Northern Territory,” Faizasyah said.
Under the country’s ambitious Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia’s Economic Development (MP3EI), Indonesia is divided into six economic corridors. Bali and Nusa Tenggara are the centers for tourism and food security while Papua and Maluku will be developed as natural resources.
According to the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), Australia invested $89.7 million in Indonesia last year, down from $214.2 million in 2010.