Indonesia and Australia have abundant opportunities to increase their bilateral economic and business cooperation, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said in Darwin, Northern Australia on Tuesday.
Addressing an Australia-Indonesia Business Council luncheon, Yudhoyono said that with cooperation, each country has the opportunity to realize their economic goals.
“With the combination of our internal and external factors, the economic growth of the two countries will only grow stronger in the future,” Yudhoyono said; internally, the president added, each country is experiencing an increase in its productive-age population, as well as an acceleration in technological innovation.
Yudhoyono also said that externally, both Indonesia and Australia can look forward to the growth of regional and emerging economies, the strengthening of the US economy and the recovery of the euro zone.
He said that Australia and Indonesia each contributed significantly to global economic growth with their combined GDP of over US$ 2 trillion, putting them within the 18 biggest economies in the world.
“Despite the gloomy world economic situation, I remain optimistic — I am optimistic that we can continue on our sustainable development course. I am also sure that we can further increase our bilateral economic and business cooperation,” the president said.
Total trade between the two countries has grown by an average of 11.3 percent; in 2011, and combined trade reached $10.76 billion as Australia stood as the 14th largest investor in Indonesia.
Yudhoyono said that the Master Plan on Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia’s Economic Development (MP3EI) provides an excellent partnership opportunity in trade and investment. The president called on Australia to further contribute to the “strengthening of the economic resilience of Indonesia.”
“Economic resilience, which is an outcome of disciplined economic policies and measures, will help strengthen the foundation for our bilateral economic cooperation. In turn, a strong and growing economic engagement between Australia and Indonesia will help better absorb future global economic shocks,” Yudhoyono said.
The president also said that Indonesia’s geography, demographics, stability, democracy, economic strengths and competitive labor can be used to the advantage of Australian businesses.
“Make Indonesia your hub for production and innovation. Having plants, factories, and business centers in Indonesia will open bigger markets for your businesses,” Yudhoyono said.
The president also said there was a strategic value in developing Eastern Indonesia’s Bali, Nusa Tenggara, Maluku and Papua regions together with Australia’s Northern Territory. He cited opportunities for investments in mining, cattle, agriculture, fisheries and tourism sectors, with an emphasis on cattle.
“The increasing capacity of the Indonesian cattle industry will in turn boost the economic benefits of related industries in Australia. Currently, Indonesia absorbs 43 percent of Australia’s live cattle exports. The demand for beef will increase in parallel with Indonesia’s growing economy and middle class,” he said.
Yudhoyono, who has been in Darwin since Monday to attend the annual leaders meeting with his Australian counterpart Julia Gillard, is due to leave for Sumba in Indonesia’s East Nusa Tenggara on Thursday.