While the modern state of Indonesia only came into being after the Second World War, the islands’ history dates back much earlier: evidence of humanoid activity from 1.5m-1.6m years ago has been found on Java. Following the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century, the islands experienced European colonial rule until the Second World War. The country was occupied by the Japanese during the war, with the Dutch recognising an independent Indonesia afterwards, in late 1949. Indonesia was one of the five founding members of ASEAN in 1967. Indonesia is the world’s 16th-largest economy, the third-most-populous democracy, the largest archipelagic state and home to the largest Muslim population. Indonesia’s natural resources include petroleum, gas, tin, nickel, timber, copper, coal, gold and silver. As ASEAN moves towards the launch of the Economic Community in 2015, tariffs have been gradually lowered, with impressive results.
This chapter contains interviews with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Sukwoo Hong, Korean Minister of Knowledge Economy, and viewpoints from Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment; Ed Fast, Canadian Minister of International Trade; and Robert Hormats, US Under-Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment