Indonesia will not lose sight of national priorities at G-20: Foreign minister

Amid the unabating crisis in Ukraine and major power rivalries, Retno said this year’s G-20 “was the most challenging” of affairs and had been “very, very difficult” to navigate.

Yvette Tanamal

Yvette Tanamal

The Jakarta Post


This handout picture taken and released on April 29, 2022 by the Presidential Palace shows President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo making a political statement at the Bogor Palace, where he invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in addition to Russian President Vladimir Putin, to attend the G20 meeting in November in Bali.(AFP/Handout)

October 14, 2022

JAKARTA – While the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) wealthy industrialized nations sought to underline their “biting sanctions” on Russia at an urgent meeting on Tuesday, Indonesia on the same day chose to prioritize economic stability by “putting politics aside” to advance its national interests at the Group of 20 Summit in Bali in November.

Experts gathered in Jakarta for an annual training seminar program by the National Resilience Institute (Lemhanas), attended by Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi and Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartanto. The seminar, entitled “G20 Leadership Collaboration: Global Supply Chain and Connectivity”, focused greatly on the opportunities Indonesia ought to take advantage of during the weeklong G20 activities.

Amid the unabating crisis in Ukraine and major power rivalries within the Indo-Pacific region, Retno said during her opening remarks that this year’s G20 “was the most challenging” of affairs and had been “very, very difficult” to navigate. Against this backdrop, speakers urged Indonesia not to lose sight of its own economic agenda and trade priorities despite uncertain external developments.

“Indonesia’s [geographic] position is very strategic, being in the middle of two oceans and the Strait of Malacca – the most important sea trade route in the world,” said Airlangga, who spoke on behalf of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

“With this geographic asset, Indonesia ought to take a proactive, strategic and aggressive role in the economic cooperation forum.”

One example of an ongoing economic initiative Jakarta should prioritize is the fast-developing semiconductor chip industry, according to Lemhanas representative Sri Wahyuni. In July, the Industry Ministry announced that a new semiconductor chip factory in Batam, Riau Islands, was in the pipeline after Germany invested Rp 569.3 billion (US$ 37 million) in the project. The enterprise was thought to be a step in the right direction for Indonesia’s transition to using electric vehicles, the ministry said.

Sri added that since the market price for semiconductor chips was projected to almost triple in less than 10 years, Indonesia’s efforts in November should be focused on guaranteeing that the global supply chain runs smoothly so that Jakarta may position itself as another chip supplier.

“[Jakarta ought to] optimize its position at the G20 to promote its national economic interests and separate political affairs from economic matters,” she asserted.

Other than the manufacturing of chips, Sri recommended focusing on blue and green economic development and equal access to vaccines for vulnerable populations.

In navigating the current superpower rivalries and pressures from those parties, University of Indonesia rector Ari Kuncoro stated that Jakarta should take full advantage of its “free and active” foreign policy during the summit. The current “trend of deglobalization” should be taken as an opportunity by Indonesia to assert itself as a key alternative supplier on the global stage, he suggested.

“Indonesia should be diligent in keeping up its economic growth and control inflation rates by strengthening the domestic production of agricultural products. This also includes energy, through the use of renewables such as wind, geothermal, ocean current, solar, biogas and other sources,” Ari said.

However, these recommendations by no means imply that Jakarta should retire its efforts to mediate peace, the speakers noted. During her opening remarks, Retno stressed that a commitment to encouraging and facilitating dialogue among parties, regardless of how unlikely it is to bring about change, remained unfaltering in Indonesia’s list of diplomatic priorities.

“The G20 cannot fail. The consequences of its failure would be far too much. At stake is the fate and welfare of billions of people across the world – especially those in developing countries,” she said.

“Indonesia will continue its undertaking in pushing every party to collaborate in solving the current multitude of economic and financial challenges,” added Airlangga.

Showing teeth

Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to unleash the largest strike on Kyiv since the start of the invasion in February, leaders of the G7 met over video link to express their determination to reaffirm “biting sanctions” on Moscow.

“The Prime Minister is also calling for an urgent meeting of NATO leaders, ensuring allies remain united and resolute in their opposition to Putin’s behavior,” read a statement from the United Kingdom government.

“The group is currently working to finalize and implement an international cap on the price of Russian oil, which will further damage Putin’s revenue stream.”

Putin’s strikes came after a massive blast that shook a bridge in the Crimea on Saturday, which was built by Moscow in 2014 after it annexed the territory. The 19-kilometer bridge acted as a key asset for delivering Russian supplies and telecommunications, as well as an essential link for its economic affairs.

While the Western bloc has maintained that their economic sanctions will be injurious to Moscow, experts have expressed their concerns that the effects of such sanctions will inevitably bleed over to third-party nations, especially developing countries.

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