Taiwan eyes closer cooperation with Indonesia

Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, is also the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

Jakarta, Indonesia

Jakarta, Indonesia (Wikimedia Commons photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - With the “New Southbound Policy” entering into full force and effect, Taiwan is seeking to forge closer bilateral ties with Indonesia, a nation that has enjoyed a robust economic growth in recent years.

Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, is also the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

According to the nation’s official statistics, Indonesia’s GDP rose by 5.02 percent in 2016, higher than 4.88 percent seen in the year before, and one of the best performing emerging markets in Asia.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) has included the Southeast Asian nation in the first phase of the policy, along with the Philippines, India, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

The policy, introduced by President Tsai Ing-wen, aims to strengthen Taiwan’s trade and economic ties with countries in South and Southeast Asia, including ten ASEAN nations along with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and New Zealand and Australia.

According to the international professional services firm PwC’s latest report published on Wednesday, Indonesia is projected to be the world’s fourth largest economy by 2050.

“By 2050, emerging economies such as Mexico and Indonesia are likely to be larger than the UK and France, while Pakistan and Egypt could overtake Italy and Canada,” the report said.

Indonesia is also Taiwan’s 12th largest partner, with over 1,700 Taiwanese companies investing in the country.

Robert James Bintaryo, representative of the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office (IETO) in Taipei, said that Indonesian President Joko Widodo has focused heavily on developing the nation’s infrastructure, especially the construction of highways, ports, railways, and electricity, a field of which he has encouraged foreign investment.

He also expressed support for Taiwan’s “New Southbound Policy,” which stresses mutual benefit and win-win cooperation between Taiwan and the targeted countries.

The Taiwanese government has planned on allowing more Indonesian workers into the country, which serves as an important step in advancing the government’s policy as well as bilateral ties.

Indonesian is the biggest source of migrant workers for Taiwan, followed by Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand.