September 21, 2023
JAKARTA – Indonesia advanced its bid for membership of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), holding bilateral talks with a number of its members at the United Nations in New York, the United States, on Tuesday, in the hope of winning over the consensus needed for admission.
Out of the 23 bilateral meetings held by Indonesia that day, the talks with three OECD countries, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan, were the longest in duration. Ranked by GDP, these three nations hold the OECD’s top-four positions, with the United States standing in first place.
Shorter talks were also held on the same day on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) with nine other OECD members: Sweden, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Slovenia, Luxembourg and Portugal.
“We are using these meetings to seek support for Indonesia’s candidacy at the UN Human Rights Council and also at the OECD,” Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi told reporters after the meetings. “So far, all of the responses to both of our candidacies have been very positive.”
As one of the world’s largest economies, Indonesia has been one of the OECD’s five key partners since 2007. Five years later, Indonesia became the first key partner to have signed a Framework of Cooperation Agreement with the grouping, which consists mostly of wealthy nations.
OECD membership is projected to boost Indonesia’s economy via increased investment, as well as elevating its status to that of high-income country. Before submitting its official bid in August, Indonesia had for years worked on fulfilling the group’s requirements, by reforming its domestic economic system among other means.
Since officially throwing its hat in the OECD ring, Jakarta has also worked its diplomatic muscle to garner the support of the group’s 38 members.
“So far no member has rejected Indonesia’s bid,” Tri Tharyat, the director general for multilateral cooperation at the Foreign Ministry, said on Sunday.
“The process will be a long one, but once accepted, there will be a road map drawn up for Indonesia’s accession.”
Analysts have previously pointed out that Indonesia’s OECD membership may require extra time and effort, given that the country still needs to further reform its economic system before meeting the group’s requirements, as well as ongoing trade disputes with some of its members.
Indonesia’s trade policies have agitated its European partners, following the government’s decision to ban the export of raw nickel ore, a key move in actualizing its vision of downstreaming key mineral industries. Late last year, the European Union won the case it filed at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the export ban.
But the government remains adamant on continuing its downstream program, a quintessential part of its 2025-2045 National Long Term Development Plan, insisting that it is the only plausible scenario through which Indonesia can elevate from being a developing to a developed nation.
Jakarta-based think tank the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) executive director, Yose Rizal Damuri, told The Jakarta Post recently that “[OECD rules] may not be in line with many of Indonesia’s domestic policies”.
CSIS economist Habib Abiyan Dzakwan, meanwhile, said, “Of course, the possibility of accession will always be there. But it won’t come quickly, even if [President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo] himself has put in the effort to lobby world leaders”.
The 78th UNGA officially started on Tuesday under the theme, “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and sustainability for all”.