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Taiwan seeks more business opportunities with Indonesia

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by October 29, 2016 General

Taiwan expects to boost its bilateral trade with Indonesia through the introduction of the so-called “New Southbound Policy” by its new government.

The policy, adopted under the leadership of President Tsai Ing-wen, who was inaugurated in May, aims to strengthen Taiwan’s cooperation with nations in South and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand, in multiple sectors.

During his maiden visit to Indonesia this week, Taiwan’s Deputy Minister of Economic Affairs Yang Wei-fuu brought along executives from Taiwanese state-owned enterprises representing various industries, including sugar, salt, aerospace, steel, oil and gas.

“We’re looking for cooperation opportunities, to examine the needs in Indonesia and how we can help with our expertise and technology,” he said in Jakarta on the sidelines of an Indonesia-Taiwan business forum on Thursday evening.

Experts from Taiwan, for example, can train sugar companies here to produce better and more sugar using its machines and methods, so Indonesia can import machines afterward, Yang said.

The minister and his entourage will conclude their four-day visit on Saturday.

Trade between Indonesia and Taiwan has seen a decline in recent years as a result of the global economic crisis as well as a lack of trade cooperation agreements.

Indonesia’s exports to Taiwan consist mainly of natural gas, coal, copper and gold, timber and rubber and other raw materials. Imports consist largely of oil products, iron and steel products, textile raw materials, machinery parts, chemicals and other products.

Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) Taiwan Committee chairman SD Darmono said that to effectively boost trade between the two parties, Indonesia needed to have another logistics hub in the country’s eastern part, nearer to Taiwan.

“All this time, they [Taiwan’s businesses] need to stop by in Singapore before entering Jakarta. That’s an extra 1,000 kilometers by sea,” he said.

Darmono suggested Morotai Island in North Maluku province as a potential new hub, however, progress in building the island’s infrastructure has been slow. The island located near the Philippines also has potential for marine tourism. It has a population of only 60,000 although its size is three times that of Singapore.

“Businesspeople in Taiwan and Indonesia signed commitments to invest in the island two years ago but progress has been too slow while we cannot also depend on the limited state budget to build it,” he said.

He added that the hub could improve Indonesia’s trade with Taiwan, especially in value-added products, like food and clothing.

Besides trade, Taiwan is also eyeing investing in Indonesia’s ambitious infrastructure boost, especially in solar and biomass-fueled power plants.

“Both governments have been discussing [which power plant] projects we can invest in and how sustainable the project is once it’s done,” Deputy Minister Yang said.

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