Indonesia declared its independence on August 17, 1945. Ten years later, Indonesia and Poland established diplomatic relations on September 19, 1955. Therefore, the year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of Indonesia independence as well as the 65th anniversary of Poland-Indonesia diplomatic relations.

Indonesia is a country located in the Southeast Asia, between the Indian and Pacific oceans. It is an archipelago that lies across the Equator and spans a distance equivalent to one-eighth of Earth’s circumference. Indonesia is composed of some 17,508 islands and today it is home to 273.5 million people. Unsurprisingly, there are more than 300 different ethnic groups and more than twice as many distinct languages there.

In more than 6 decades, Indonesia and Poland countries have been through a lot of changes, but the relations between Indonesia and Poland has only been growing stronger, as demonstrated in the thriving and expanding cooperation between both governments, private sectors, and other stakeholders. Recently, we witness the continuous active engagements between our high-ranking officials and our Foreign Ministers had exchanged visits in 2018 and 2019.

Indonesian FM Retno L.P. Marsudi with Polish FM. Czaputowicz (Pic 1) and with Polish Businessmen (Pic 2)

Our bilateral trade, according to the Ministry of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia, recorded USD 726,4 million in 2020 or with Poland’s export to Indonesia reached USD 285,3 million, increased by 26.9% compared to the previous year’s value. While the Indonesian exports to Poland in the same year reached USD 441.1 million, a slightly decrease from of the previous year which amounted USD 483. 78 millions. It shows us that the bilateral trade is even increasing during the pandemic and it also proves how strong the fundamental basis of economic cooperation between the two countries is. 

Many Indonesian’s products can easily be found in Poland’s market, such as Indomie (instant noodles), Kopiko, Kara (coconut milk), Pocky, tea, coffee, textile and apparel products, etc. Whilst, one of Poland’s products that is famously known in Indonesia is Inglot. As a country with the biggest number of Muslim population, Inglot offers breathable halal nail polish and can be used for daily activities. To put in context, Muslim women should not use any nail polish as it believes will not allow water to penetrate the nail for daily prayer.

In the same year, Polish investments to Indonesia have only reached USD 1.1 million covering 85 projects. This is very little as compared to actual potentials both countries could offer. Poland’s biggest investment in Indonesia is RAFAKO along with Indonesian engineering firm, Rekaya Industri (Rekind) joint forces to build a 2 x 50 megawatt power plant for the state electricity company (PLN) in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.

On the other hand, Hit Electronic is one big Indonesia’s investment in Poland with investment value up to PLN 6.3 million or USD 1.65 million, located in Ciechanów. This company produces semiconductor and other electronic components. Moreover, this company employs more than 100 employees and generates USD7.40 million in sales.

As part of the ASEAN 600 million single market and competitive production base, investing in Indonesia correspond to the gateway to tap not only Indonesia’s 270 million domestic market, but also that of ASEAN and its greater region. In the other hand, Indonesia also like to explore possibility to invest in Poland to support for our greater access to the EU market.

The global geo-economics and geopolitics that are now shifting to Asia. Asian Century is real, and actually is happening now since the GDP of all Asian countries in PPP terms is already more than 50 percent of the global GDP, and it’s growing fast.

And within the G20, which is the top 20 World’s economies, the portion of Asian Economy, in terms of GDP-PPP, has been increasing, from only 28% in 2000, to 38% in 2010, 44% in 2020, and being projected to be 51% in 2030 or sooner. Which means, not only in terms of purchasing powers, but Asian Economy will also be the largest geo-economics power too.

Now, on the stability and security situations. In the last 50 years, right after the Indo-China war, inter-state conflicts have been absent from South East and East Asia (this refers to ASEAN 10 and Japan, the Koreas, and China). Despite the delicate problems and potential conflicts in the Korean Peninsula, the East China Sea, and the South China Sea, and the worst of all, the US-China rivalry and power projection, many international institutions, such as Fund For Peace and Marsh & McLean have qualified the political risk map of East Asia and India within a range of moderate risk to stable.

According to Indonesia, the Rise of Asia means the rise of global partnership. ASEAN mechanisms should be dedicated for this noble goal. In fact, because of ASEAN, Southeast Asia serves as a stronger foundation of the Asian Century, more than East Asian countries of Japan, China and the Koreas, which are still marred with animosity from the history of World War II.

At the latest development, under the leadership of Indonesia, ASEAN managed to form Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). And RCEP will be an important pillar of the Asian Century, and it will also further integrate the economy of the Region. RCEP members today, including Indonesia has 2/3 of its trade with fellow RCEP members.

In addition to Indonesia’s role in ASEAN, we also play active role beyond the region. On the pandemic issue, Indonesia sits on the driving seat, to ensure equitable access to vaccines, especially for developing countries. Indonesia Minister of Foreign Affairs is co-chair of COVAX AMC-EG (COVID-19 Vaccines Advance Market Commitment – Engagement Group) to look after our national and developing countries interests.

Furthermore, there are many potential investment sectors for Poland to explore in Indonesia. Those include, among others, industry 4.0 manufacturing, digital economy, pharmaceutical and medical equipment, and infrastructures. Indonesia is also in the process of developing the capacity to support e mobility, including the processing and production of lithium batteries. In December 2020, the Polish – Indonesian Platform for Electromobility has been launched to implement the cooperation in the development and education in the field of electromobility as well as to promote potential investment in related field in Indonesia.  E-mobility will contribute much to the commitment of two countries in reducing carbon emission and this concept is also in line with circular economy which has been part recent economic approaches of the two countries.  Last year, Minister of Climate and Environment of Poland, H.E. Michal Kurtyka and Deputy Minister of Environment and Forestry of Indonesia, H.E. Alue Duhong participated in  a bilateral circular economy webinar.

Other potential sectors are related to digital economy, includes, fintech, e-commerce and telemedicine. As we are also committed to greener and ecofriendly future, we should double our efforts to identify other potential sustainability sectors for cooperation.

Maritime cooperation and higher education, including vocational training are also potential to be explored. Thus, many other cooperation could be further identified through the interactions between two nations.

Pandemic COVID-19 has also made some opportunities in certain sectors for cooperation, in which Indonesia and Poland could be complimentary each other, such as pharmaceutical products, including vitamins and supplements, health machineries and other health related needs (gloves, masks, vinyl/rubber products and so on). Such cooperation in pharmaceutical products has begun in 2019, when Indonesia pharmaceutical company, PT Ferron Par Pharmaceuticals has entered the Polish market with the initial export of its diabetes medicine named Avamina SRÒ.

In recent years, more Poles have chosen Indonesia as their holiday destination. While there were 32,704 visits of Polish tourists to Indonesia in 2017, the numbers peaked at 41,637 visits in 2019, as recorded by Statistics Indonesia. Despite that Covid-19 still restrict or limit the people to travel, we should not forget, as the situation is under control, we should start expanding this cooperation.

Before the outbreak of the Covid-19, we have noted the steady increase of tourists from Poland to visit Indonesia. Therefore, when the epidemic started, Indonesia has managed to help the repatriation of polish tourists back to Poland safely and vice versa.

More Indonesian students have chosen Poland as their study destination and the Government of the Province of West Nusa Tenggara grants scholarship to its local people to study in partner universities in Poland.

Poland also becomes a land of paradise for Indonesian’s migrant workers as it offers numerous jobs. Poland is an entryway to experience life in Europe as for Indonesians, Europe offers a better life compare to countries in Middle East, where most of them are treated unequally. The number of Indonesian’s migrant workers were racking up to 443 people by the end of 2020 while the number of professional workers was reaching 65 people.

However, it is also a truth that not many Poles know about Indonesia, apart from the well-known facts such as Indonesia is where Bali is located, some islands in Indonesia are the natural habitat of Komodo, or a fact that both countries share red and white as the colors of their respective flags. Regarding the flags, the flags of Indonesia and Poland are almost identical – two horizontal stripes: while it’s red over white (Indonesia), it’s white over red (Poland).

On the other hand, the same thing can also be said about Indonesians: not many Indonesians know about Poland apart from the fact that Poland gave birth to the world-famous people in history, arts, and science such as Pope John Paul II, Nicolaus Copernicus, Frédéric François Chopin and Marie Curie. Now, Poland is more popular in Indonesia due to its professional sportsmen, such as Robert Lewandowski (soccer), Iga Swiatec (tennis), Robert Kubica (F-1) and so on.   One of Indonesian soccer player, Egy Maulana Vikri (21 yo) is now playing for Lechia Gdansk and he can be also considered “ambassador” for both countries.

Egy Maulana Vikri, Indonesian is a Lechia Gdansk player (since 2018)

The Embassy also held economy – cultural promotion in every occasion, from promoting Batik, Indonesia’s rich cultural heritage which in 2009 UNESCO recognized Indonesian Batik as a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, to Indonesia Coffee in Krakow Old Town (2019).

Also in 2019, Indonesia appointed Mr. Marian Zbigniew Skrzypiec as Honorary Consul of the Republic of Indonesia for domiciled in the city of Krakow with the working area of the Malapolska Province. The existance of Honorary Consul will open a wider cooperation space between two countries.

Before the pandemic, the Embassy has program “Familiarization Trip to Indonesia for Polish Tour Operators”. This program offer not only offers trips to a mainstream destination in Indonesia, like Bali, but also to promote Indonesia’s destination in other areas.

Not only adults, promotional events also targeting children as they will be more have deeper connection to Indonesia if we keep on presenting Indonesia’s culture since early ages. That’s why, the Embassy maintains a good connection from preschool students to elderly. Several cultural events were being held in preschools, in collaboration with Warsaw Gamelan Group. By the end of 2019, the Embassy held Indonesia Movie Days for preschool, kindergarten and elementary school to watch one of Indonesia famous kids movie “Si Unyil”.

During pandemic, therefore, the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia organized a series of events to introduce Indonesia more to Polish public in 2020 as part of the 65th Anniversary of Indonesia – Poland diplomatic relation. Due to restrictions imposed by the government to prevent the increased transmission of COVID-19, some of these events took place online and through electronic and printed media. All the updates on the events or promotion are announced on the social media of the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Warsaw (Facebook: Indonesian Embassy Warsaw; Twitter: @IndonesiaInPL; Instagram: @indonesiainwarsaw; YouTube: KBRI Warsawa TV).

This year, the Embassy will have several promotion activities, altogether with MFA Indonesia, we will have Indonesia – Central Eastern European Business Forum on 13 – 15 of July 2021. During summer time, we also will have some cultural activities to promote Indonesia’s culture, food, etc. Furthermore, the Embassy has annual commitment to attend to economic – social culture activities held by Poland government/ business partners.

In term of high level visits,  there is a talk about the visit of President Duda to Indonesia in the near future.  Both sides prepare some bilateral agreements for the visits deliverables in the domain of mutual interests of the countries, such as transportations, health and Maritime cooperation. Last presidential visit was of the President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to Warsaw in 2013. 

Autorem artykułu jest Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia. Publikacja powstała w ramach projektu „GospoStrategie – dyplomacja gospodarcza w Polsce!”, który został objęty honorowym patronatem Ministerstwa Rozwoju, Pracy i Technologii.