Jakarta. A delegation of Polish businessmen and government officials visited Indonesia this week to strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries, with a special focus on trade and investment in energy.
Although the European nation has long had bilateral relations with Indonesia, trade between the two stagnated over the past five years, while investment inflows from Poland into Southeast Asia's largest economy have yet to reach the level of its European peers.
The Polish delegation, consisting of Deputy Foreign Minister Marek Magierowski, Deputy Energy Minister Grzegorz Tobiszowski and 15 business leaders – mostly from the energy and mining sectors – met with an Indonesian delegation in Jakarta on Thursday (12/04) to present business opportunities to key stakeholders on both sides.
The Indonesian delegation consisted of Deputy Energy Minister Arcandra Tahar and prominent business leaders, including James Riady, Sofjan Wanandi and Chairul Tanjung.
"I hope this meeting is not only ceremonial, as we expect a real deal for both countries' business communities. Of course, the government will strongly support any opportunities," Arcandra said at a press conference.
Poland invested $19.7 million in Indonesia last year, and while it was 15 times more than a year earlier, it was still far below the $1.5 billion invested by the Netherlands in the archipelago during the same period.
Growth in trade has also been slow. The countries exchanged $520 million in goods last year, which was only 1 percent more than five years earlier. Indonesia, which mainly exports electronic goods and optics to Poland, enjoyed a trade surplus of more than $240 million last year.
"Though the amount is relatively small, we expect this to be gradually increased soon, especially on the investment side," said Rosan Roeslani, chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).
Roslan's sentiments were met with similar optimism by Deputy Minister Magierowski, the leader of the Polish delegation.
Magierowski said apart from the energy sector, Poland is also eyeing deals in the maritime, agricultural, technology and education sectors.
"We would like to see more Indonesian students coming to our universities. We're also interested in the coal-fired power plant on Lombok Island, and we are also a food-exporting country, whose apples you have to try," he said.
Indonesia and Poland are currently setting up a business council, which is expected to improve economic relations between the two countries.
Peter F. Gontha, Indonesia's ambassador to Warsaw, said Poland has asked the government to provide 20,000 Indonesian workers to be deployed in that country's maritime sector.
Poland, a country with a population of close to 40 million and a gross domestic product of around $526 million in 2017, is considered one of the most prosperous of the former Eastern Bloc countries, with a healthy growth rate over the past few years, which has seen it become the eighth-largest economy in the European Union.
"We've always been trying to support free trade, as we are part of the European Union, which also has the same philosophy," Magierowski said.
Poland's top export commodities are machinery, automotive parts and electrical equipment.
"Development of a new economic market for electric vehicles is one of Poland's opportunities for other countries. To support low emission transportation and green industry, the concept of electric cars has become relevant nowadays," Deputy Energy Minister Tobiszowski said.