The year 2012 has been a landmark year for the UK’s relationship with Indonesia, which both President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the UK government are committed to strengthening.
My visit to Jakarta in April, together with Prime Minister David Cameron and a large business delegation, was the opportunity to launch the Partnership Forum, which will oversee the development of a number of areas key to our relationship, such as foreign policy and defence, trade and investment, education, climate change and interfaith dialogue.
Visits by other members of the UK government throughout the year have seen agreements signed in key sectors, including defence cooperation, education and the creative industries. These welcome steps helped pave the way for President Yudhoyono’s state visit to London at the end of October, accompanied by a 300-strong delegation made up of parliamentarians and businessmen.
Our partnership with Indonesia is important to the UK and I am proud that continuing to develop it is a real priority for the UK government.
Over the last decade Indonesia has undergone a remarkable transformation, moving from the brink of economic collapse to becoming a member of the G20, and from authoritarianism to thriving democracy. It now has the fourth-largest population in the world, and has become the world’s biggest Muslim democracy. We welcome the role that Indonesia played in showing the world that Islam and democracy can co-exist and thrive.
Already a member of the G20, Indonesia is projected to become one of the top 10 economies by 2020. The country is also in the vanguard of the political change shaping Asia, and a vital engine for global economic growth.
Indonesia also plays an increasingly important role in the wider world; President Yudhoyono’s leadership on climate change and other global issues underscores the values that our two countries share.
The UK is committed to working with Indonesia and its neighbours so that we continue to turn these shared values into shared action, which in turn will help us to realise the benefits of greater freedom, prosperity and security together.
A common interest in a successful global economy underpinned by free trade is shared by the UK and Indonesia. Despite difficult economic times, our trade relationship is strong. Indeed, in 2011 Indonesia mounted a successful promotion of Indonesian products here in London.
The UK is the second-largest European investor in Indonesia and we have a strong presence in areas such as financial services and energy as well as in the creative industries.
Leading British investors in the country include companies such as Jardines, BP, Premier Oil, Shell, Unilever, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Prudential, GlaxoSmithKline and Astra Zeneca.
Bilateral trade is, in fact, increasing. Total trade with UK in 2011 was £2.4bn (up 10% year-on-year). In 2011 exports of goods and services to Indonesia were worth £0.97bn, an increase of 28%, whilst UK imports from Indonesia rose 0.6% to £1.4bn.
During President Yudhoyono’s state visit to London in October 2012, we had constructive discussions on a number of subjects, with an overarching focus on the UK-Indonesian trade and investment relationship. We agreed that good progress had been made in building on the UK-Indonesia Partnership Forum, but that more needed to be done to meet the shared target of doubling bilateral trade by 2015 to £4.4bn. We also looked forward to further cooperation to reduce barriers to trade.
A spirit of togetherness and cooperation has been the hallmark of our relations in 2012, and in this spirit, I am confident that if we work together on our shared aspiration to build a prosperous world based on fundamental freedoms, the partnership between the Britain and Indonesia will continue to flourish.
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