As Indonesia celebrates 76 years of independence, let me convey the warmest regard to the people of Hong Kong and my heartfelt best wishes to my fellow Indonesians residing in Hong Kong and Macao. It is an honor to be the Indonesian Consul General in Hong Kong at this exciting period in our relationship.
In this auspicious occasion, I reflect on the deeply rooted friendship between Indonesia, Hong Kong and China that has been developed over decades through our economies and firm people-to-people ties.
Our vibrant relationship is shown through high-ranking visits during several years back. At the highest level, President Joko Widodo visited Hong Kong in May 2017. In April 2018, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, Mrs. Carrie Lam visited Jakarta, Indonesia and met with President Joko Widodo discussing several issues covering economic, trade and investment, as well as culture and education. Follow up partnerships have continued to progress since then, as Hong Kong and Indonesia are always actively looking to increase cooperation in these sectors among others.
Indonesia in Hong Kong
Currently there are approximately 165.000 Indonesian domestic workers in Hong Kong. The number covers more than 90% Indonesian diaspora in the city. In labor sector, Indonesia and Hong Kong are well committed to further strengthen collaboration for assured well-being of the Indonesian domestic workers. Responsibility to provide safe and dignified environment for the workers is a shared task between us all. I hereby highly appreciate progressive efforts made by Government of Hong Kong to collaborate and we look forward for stronger enforcement of labor protections to further guarantee the workers’ rights in the city.
The sizable Indonesian population has rather contributed to the city’s melting pot of culture and ample culinary choices. Numerous Indonesian restaurants and customers also drives the Indonesian exports to Hong Kong markets, not to mention the growing local Hongkongers demand for Indonesian products. In November 2020, an online marketplace IDN Store was launched simultaneously in Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Taiwan to further linking our private sectors. Through IDN Store, Hong Kong buyers and consumers would be able to purchase Indonesian export-ready merchandises.
In addressing the pandemic, I am proud of our work together to fight the global threat of COVID-19. The Indonesian Consulate in Hong Kong will remain a steadfast partner to the Government of Hong Kong to enhance the anti-epidemic capability and to allow the resuming of normal activities of society. For August 1 and 29, the Indonesian Consulate in Hong Kong has arranged Covid-19 vaccination for hundreds of Indonesians through the Hong Kong Government’s outreach vaccination program.
Importantly, being the representative of Indonesia in Hong Kong, the Indonesian Consulate General has been constantly providing excellent services to both Indonesians and Hongkongers. The Consulate consolidates its position for being the “home for Indonesian citizen”, by providing various legal services and consular protection to all Indonesian citizen dwelling in Hong Kong. At least 7,000 Indonesian received service from the Consulate each year.
Indonesia and Hong Kong economic partnership is strong and growing. Hong Kong at one hand is the natural partner for Indonesia in trade and investment, given the city’s unique combination of connectivity and access to Mainland China and the global network.
With the unique “one country, two systems” arrangement, Hong Kong plays a pivotal super connector role that would strengthen a triangle cooperation among China, Hong Kong and Indonesia. The development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) could achieve synergy through complimentary cooperation of these three places, and that Hong Kong could act as a two-way open platform for “going global” together with GBA cities.
Furthermore, when the part relating to Indonesia in Free Trade Agreement and Investment Agreement between Hong Kong and ASEAN came into force in 2020, the two economies marked a bilateral relations milestone. Goods of Hong Kong origin exporting to ASEAN Member States (AMS), including Indonesia, are eligible for preferential tariff treatment under AHKFTA. This will unfold new opportunities provided as there would be more freer flows of goods and investment. This would also reinforce an important economic support for Southeast Asia and compliment the Belt and Road Initiative.
A Warm Celebration
On this Seventeenth of August, I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation once again to the government of Hong Kong SAR for continuously maintaining and enhancing mutual benefit in our relationship.
To my fellow Indonesians in Hong Kong, may today’s 76th year of our independence be fulfilling to you. As we look to strengthen our partnership with Hong Kong, we hope that the bonds that continue to tie us together will cultivate the health and prosperity, of our two peoples.
Compelling Indonesia: Opportunities in Asia’s economic powerhouse
As ASEAN’s largest economy, constituting 35% of ASEAN GDP and 40% of the ASEAN population, Indonesia is the region’s most compelling investment destination. The disruption of global economy due to the Covid-19 outbreak has also brought opportunities for Indonesia’s digital economy, with 2020 seen as a milestone where the industry grew at full velocity. In the first half of 2021, realization of Indonesia’s Foreign Direct Investment from Hong Kong has reached US$2,3 billion, which puts Hong Kong as the second largest investor after Singapore. This demonstrates our strong cooperation even in such testing time.
As a citizen of the largest archipelagic country in the world, awareness of the importance of connectivity is a common understanding in Indonesia since the population is spread across thousand islands. Since 2014, the Indonesian Government has put forward the agenda of enhancing the nation’s connectivity which covers not only land infrastructure, but also air and sea. To date, there have been more than additional 3,100 km border roads, 1,300 km toll roads, and 811 km railroad tracks, as well 136 ports and 65 dams. The growth of Indonesian infrastructure has been generating economic growth in many parts of Indonesia as it stimulates and facilitates smoother flows of goods, services, and people.
Beyond national, Indonesia’s great attention and focus towards enhancing connectivity have also been brought to ASEAN mechanisms. 10 Southeast Asian nations issued Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity that will ensure that ASEAN Community runs smoothly. In this respect, we see great benefit can be generated out of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Throughout its tens of participating countries, the initiative provides meaningful platform to help achieving better connectivity between countries, especially in the Asia Pacific region.
For best outcome, the existing initiatives in the region of Southeast Asia, such as ASEAN’s MPAC and BRI must be fully utilized because in the very challenging situation due to COVID-19, cooperation between countries is more important than ever. The cooperation will not only increase the sense of belonging from every participating country but will also ensure the sustainability of the projects. As President Joko Widodo has stated at the opening of the 5th Belt and Road Summit on 30 November 2020, Indonesia deemed it important for BRI cooperation to expand its scope of cooperation to include national development and to maintain the principle of equality.
Potentials in Indonesia Digital Economy
In 2020 in many parts of the globe, there have been many technology-related companies have taken the benefit in gaining capitals and revenues. In Indonesia, e-commerce sales in the first 4 months increased up to 26% at USD2,4 billion compared to last year’s record. Such increase was coupled with more than 50% hike of transaction from consumers who purchased from e-commerce platform for the first time.
Indonesia’s digital economy potential is valued at US$133 billion, while in the ASEAN, it reached US$300 billion. Indonesia also possessed sufficient capital for digital transformation and for tapping the potential since 180 million of the population had internet access. Of the 180 million internet users, 150 million are active users and 105 million are online service users.
During the pandemic, social distancing, stay at home, and implementation of health protocol in public areas have changed how industries conduct their business as well as a consequential shift in consumer behaviors. This has stimulated the growth of digital economy as it takes center stage. With the surge of internet penetration rate and the rapid adoption of smartphones, the value of Indonesia’s digital economy in 2025 is estimated to reach USD124 billion.
Similar to Hong Kong, Indonesia’s economy is outward-looking and relies on its strong trade and investment relations with other economies. Indonesia wishes to encourage more business and investment in Indonesia. In the past few years, Hong Kong has always been in the top 4 investors for Indonesia and hopefully cooperation in digital economy would become a thing to look forward to for the two economies.
Tourism and Socio-Culture
Some of the best world tourist destinations located all over Indonesia’s culturally exotic and yet mystifyingly beautiful islands geography. These are places which would surely cater to the curious travelers’ appetite of distinct cultures and diverse interests, ranging from scuba diving in the world renowned Bunaken, exploring the native habitat of legendary Komodo dragons, to visiting the ancient temple of Borobudur, a Buddhist temple named as one of the Wonders of the World.
In strengthening cooperation in the field of tourism and culture, continuous efforts have been made. For instance, Indonesian exhibitors participated actively in last month’s Leisure and Sports Expo, Hong Kong Book Fair, and World of Snack and successfully gained hundreds of eager individuals who could not wait to experience firsthand the wonderful Indonesia.
As the current global pandemic hits, Indonesian tourism industry is getting ready for massive changes until the world recovers from the pandemic and international travel begins again. Necessary health protocols, entry access, distancing measure are being prepared to embrace the new normal. We suggest you design your own Indonesia Bucket List to prepare for visit after pandemic is over.
In terms of education, as much as 50 Indonesian students benefitted from the Belt and Road scholarship scheme. Belt and Road scholarship is awarded to Indonesian students every year since 2017 and we hope that the number will continue to grow in the future. The Indonesian Arts and Culture Scholarship (Beasiswa Seni dan Budaya Indonesia/BSBI) will also be offered to Hong Kong students who are interested to learn Indonesian art, culture, in different regions in Indonesia for about 3-4 months. Once the cross-border travel returns normal, we are aiming to have more Hong Kong students participating in this program.
With Indonesia brimming with potentials and wonders and Hong Kong as strategic partner, it is positive to say that the bilateral partnership between Hong Kong and Indonesia will continue to foster for the benefit of the two peoples.