ALGIERS- His Excellency, the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Algeria, Mr. Chalief Akbar Tjandraningrat held, Wednesday in Algiers, a press briefing with the Algerian media aimed at discussing the horizons of the Algerian-Indonesian cooperation.
The meeting, which took place in the presence of a team from the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, composed of high-ranking officials, on a working visit to Algeria, including Mr. Muhammad Takdir, Secretary of the Team for the Advancement of the Economic Recovery and Mr. Pendekar Muda Leonard Sondakh, the Head of the Bureau for the Legal Affairs and Administration at the MFA, tackled the deeply-rooted Indonesian-Algerian relations as both nations share the common values of democracy, pluralism, and anti-colonialism, while shedding light on the prospects of these ties, especially in their economic dimension given the fact that the economic diplomacy is one of Indonesia’s foreign policy priorities under the leadership of President Joko Widodo.
“What contributes to close and friendly bilateral relations between countries? It is up to developing a trusting political dialogue and building trade, economic, and cultural cooperation. Algeria and Indonesia have built this mutual trust. Both sisterly countries have traditionally strong relations based on religious and anti-colonialist solidarity. Indonesia was among a handful of nations to have recognized Algeria before its independence. Algeria, for its part, still cherishes Indonesia’ support and its invitation to attend the first Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung in 1955,” said Mr. Chalief Akbar Tjandraningrat.
The official explained that the Indonesian officials, on a working visit to Algeria, had determined and fruitful meetings with the Algerian officials with a view to further boosting bilateral cooperation and contributing to the economic recovery, noting that Algeria, a priority for Indonesia for multiple reasons, is considered as the gate for Africa as his country is paying heed to achieve the economic recovery after Covid-19 and its fallouts.
“Following COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions, the recovery of the economy remains sluggish and depressed. The peace, security and development in the world are facing grave challenges. Despite the complex international and regional situation, Algeria and Indonesia relationship, led and cared by the two heads of state, are maintained. These relations are not newly-born. Back to history, Indonesia actively supported Algeria in their struggle for independence by establishing the North African Independence Struggle Support Committee, chaired by the-then Prime Minister of Indonesia Muhammad Natsir in 1951. In 1955, Indonesia organized the Bandung Afro-Asian Conference, which called for the independence and decolonization of Asian and African countries from European colonialism. Although at the time Algeria was still colonized, Indonesia invited an Algerian delegation to attend the Bandung conference,” the Ambassador said.
And to add: “The political relations between both countries are further enhanced by frequent high-level bilateral exchanges and meetings between senior officials and MPs, as well as the two states’ shared participation in several multilateral mechanisms, such as; the Non-Aligned Movement, Group of 77, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Algeria has spared no efforts to grant Indonesia non- permanent membership in UNSC, UNISCO and other organizations given that they share the same policy and are members in the non-alignment movement due to both countries deep- rooted and long-standing ties. As for regional and international dossiers, Jakarta and Algiers note a convergence of views on several causes. Economically, Indonesia and Algeria have made a commitment to increase bilateral trade and investment. The two countries have economic ties that go a long way back. Algeria is on the list of Indonesia’s biggest export destinations in Africa and is among the biggest African exporter to Indonesia, along with, among others, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya and South Africa. Bilateral trade volume between both countries reached over 540 million US dollars in 2021, and up until July this year has reached over 500 million US dollars. We eye more and we hope that these figures would increase in the future, especially through the establishment of the Indonesia-Algeria Business Council. In addition, it should be noted that Indonesian economic operators and businessmen from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to state-owned companies have voiced their willingness and readiness to work together with Algerian counterparts for mutual benefit co-operations.”
Asked about G to G exchange to enhance the economic relations, the Indonesian Envoy referred to frequent meetings with the Algerian officials to nail the final arrangements to sign Memoranda of understandings (MoUs) in this regard coupled with the scheduling, as of the 1Q of 2023,) of meetings between both countries’ chambers of Commerce to define the mechanisms likely to propel all-out bilateral cooperation, reflecting the will of both countries’ heads of State to enhance them in the best interests of both brotherly peoples.
In a response to a question on the business climate and the incentives granted by the Algerian side to Indonesian investors, the Ambassador said that the favorable investment climate alongside cultural exchange are the gate to prosperity and sustainable growth, hailing, in this vein, the new Investment Bill which included the key elements to facilitate the business relationships necessary to promote the economic cooperation, especially that these incentives have been introduced at a time when the North African country is enjoying economic growth, primarily as a result of the diversification of the economic activities.
“As you know, since the beginning of 2020, New Algeria has embarked on a very ambitious reform program of its legal framework to open its market to foreign investors. I mean by this, the issuance of the new investment law, as the Algerian authorities have removed most of the restrictions curtailing foreign investment, namely; the state’s pre-emption right on the transfer of shares by or to foreign shareholders, the prohibition on investors to finance their projects in Algeria with facilities from foreign lenders, and the famous ‘49/51 rule’ pursuant to which the capital of Algerian companies must be at least 51% owned by Algerian resident persons or entities, thus, limiting foreign investors’ stake to 49% (the 49/51 rule). Previously, this latter had to be applicable to all industries. However, the new bill provided that the 49/51 rule shall be applied only to purchase and resale activities and to sectors considered as strategic. This is a blessed step for us, especially that many state-owned and private companies are activating in Algerian, covering different spheres, including, among others, food processing, especially that Indonesia is a pioneer in the field of halal food, in addition to energy as the Indonesian state oil firm Pertamina is already present in Algeria under a partnership with Sonatrach and it has participated in several oil operations in this country since 2012, especially in the Menzel Ledjmet Nord (MNL), El Merk (Illizi) and Ourhoud (Ouargla) fields,” he explained.
According to the Diplomat, PT Pertamina has inked multiple agreements and MoUs with the Algerian national oil company Sonatrach to strengthen cooperation and exchange of expertise and knowledge in various segments of the hydrocarbon chain.
Besides, the Ambassador cited other fields where the Indonesian companies are activating, including phosphate as other deals were inked between Algeria and Indonesia’s Indorama Corporation to construct a phosphate mine and develop two factories to process the crop nutrient in Algeria.
“Other agreements have been inked, covering a number of strategic industrial sectors, including mining, textiles, machinery, petrochemicals, and fertilizers,” he pointed out, referring; in the same regard, to the field of housing, as Indonesia’s construction company Wijaya Karya (Wika) is striving earnestly. “The company has won development contracts in Algeria with the aim to construct subsidized houses in the country. To date, the company constructed dwellings in Ain Defla, Khemis Miliana, Baraki and El Harach,” further noted the Ambassador.
For his part, Mr. Muhammad Takdir, Secretary of the Team for the Advancement of the Economic Recovery, gave a sneak peek into the Algerian-Indonesian relations, stressing on his country’s determination to blaze an economic development path suited to its national conditions and Algeria being a top priority for Indonesia.
“The fraternal relations between the two countries were established before the Algerian Independence when Indonesia strongly supported and voiced the struggle for independence of the Algerian people to the world through the Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung in 1955. This cordial and long-lasting relationship has been proven to be productive and mutually beneficial for both countries. Since the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two sisterly countries, the connotation of Algeria-Indonesia cooperation has been continuously deepened and expanded. A multi-dimensional promotion pattern featuring the all-round participation is taking shape. My visit intervenes to overcome the setbacks caused by the pandemic and achieve new progress. The Algerian-Indonesian cooperation is diverse, covering not only the economic side. However economically speaking, we eye to deepen bilateral cooperation in many fields, to wit, food processing, energy, phosphate, ammonia, fertilizers and pharmaceutical products,” said Mr. Muhammad Takdir before giving the floor again to his Excellency, the Ambassador to shed light on the diverse sectors of interests for both countries.
“That’s true! Our relations are diverse. In addition to the well-illustrated economic side, both countries are interested in promoting cooperation and exchange in other sectors. As you know, Algeria and Indonesia are both Muslim countries, hence, the enhancement of religious cooperation is a must. In this regard, a number of agreements were inked between the two countries to foster ties in religious matters to help tackle radicalism and promote moderate Islamic teaching. As a follow-up, the two countries have also drafted a number of related programs to be implemented, that include cleric exchanges and the dissemination of moderate Islamic values. Previously, Indonesian students came to Algeria to study at a Zawayas or Islamic boarding school. Besides, I discussed during my meeting, held last November, with the Algerian Minister of Culture and Arts, Soraya Mouloudji, the possibility of organizing, in the coming months, an exhibition of Indonesian customs and traditions at the “Mofdi Zakaria” Palace of Culture. In this wake, we are considering a project to conclude a framework agreement for cooperation in the field of culture and arts, particularly in the creative economy and cultural industries, taking into consideration the recommendations of the works of the “Global Conference on the Creative Economy”, which was held in the Indonesian city of Bali during the period from 05 to 07 October 2022. As for education, we organized, a few weeks ago, a meeting with the media during which we outlined our short and long term courses as well as fully and partially funded programs and scholarships granted to Algerians with a view to propelling the educational exchange. Noting that in July 2016, Jakarta and Algiers signed an MoU for cooperation in higher education and scientific research. The agreement includes the extension of scholarships, exchange of lecturers, joint research, and publications. In fact, many Algerians are interested in Indonesian art, culture and sport, namely; Pencak Silat. The uniqueness and diversity of Indonesian culture attract the interest of the world community, including in Algeria, our traditional heritage, which has already become an internationally recognized martial sport called “Pencak Silat” has been a presence in Algeria since 6 (six) years ago, through “Pencak Silat” school: “TAPAK SUCI”, which has more than 2.500 students.
Therefore, I suggest among others, building a cultural policy to back economic prosperity by enhancing cultural exchange via different mechanisms, especially that both, Algeria and Indonesia, are culturally-rich regions. To with few: Unlocking the potential of culture and creativity for sustainable social and economic development, promoting the intercultural dialogue as this latter can build and promote understanding within and between societies because it helps to demonstrate the value of cultural diversity and attract other nations, strengthening cooperation on cultural heritage, holding exhibitions, fairs and concerts to promote the richness of culture, drawing incentive programs for the benefit of students and intellectuals and organizing forums for coordination, bringing together under one roof stakeholders, decision-makers and intellectuals to discuss key issues covering all-out bilateral spheres.
As for tourism, many Algerians have gone to Indonesia for tourism, in particular to Bali, aside from their other purposes, such as; business or official visits. Other programs are due to be launched to promote the Indonesian destination. I refer, on this level, to the decrease in the number of tourists due to the pandemic, hoping that the sector will bounce back.
In short, the encouragement of cooperation via the exchange and mutual recognition alongside favorable investment climate, the countries’ richness in terms of natural and human wealth and potentialities as well as the political stability are the vehicle to further enhancing all-out cooperation and partnership with a view to achieving prosperity, faster and sustained growth as well as further improvements in human development. We call upon the brotherly peoples from both nations to communicate better and for the decision-makers, to create channels and grant facilitations for that purpose. As diplomatic missions, we are the bridges between both nations, creating several spaces for communication and the exchange of expertise. However, we cannot achieve fruitful results without your assistance. We rely on different channels to take joint initiatives capable of consolidating the links between the two brotherly peoples, including media, the second-track diplomacy, or people-to-people contact, along with official and institutional frameworks, such as; G to G meetings and the parliamentary diplomacy, especially that the Algerian-Indonesian Parliamentary Friendship Group was set up in March 2022 at the headquarters of the People’s National Assembly (APN) and it is my pleasure to witness that the inter-parliamentary relations between Indonesia and Algeria are getting stronger, and that both institutions have actively collaborated to express common concern in the international forum, such as; the global Inter-parliamentary Union and the Organization Islamic Cooperation Parliamentary Union,” detailed His Excellency, Mr. Chalief Akbar Tjandraningrat.
The Indonesian Envoy wrapped up by extending his appreciation and thanks to the Algerian media body for positively reporting the development of the Algerian-Indonesian relationship, assuring that the relations that have been ongoing and nurturing for decades will lead both countries towards more prosperity and more mutually beneficial cooperation, stronger than before,” he said.
It is worth mentioning that a team from the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, consisting of the Economic Recovery Acceleration Team (TPPE), members from Africa Directorate, Middle East Directorate, Legal and Administrative Bureau of Ministries and Representatives (BHAKP), together with the Indonesian Embassy in Algiers held, from December 19 to 21, 2022 at the Indonesian Embassy in Algiers, Algeria, a facilitation meeting between Indonesian State-owned Enterprises (BUMN) and Indonesian representatives in the African region, as stated by a communiqué issued by the Embassy.
The meeting was aimed at setting in motion the priority mission of the Indonesian economic diplomacy in Algeria, as one of Indonesia’s priority countries in the African region.
Economic diplomacy is one of Indonesia’s foreign policy priorities under the leadership of President Joko Widodo. The performance of economic diplomacy should make a concrete contribution to growth and the achievement of national economic priorities. The TPPE team at the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for supporting the recovery process and strengthening the national economy which has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
With Indonesia’ success in handling the repercussions Covid-19 pandemic and hosting the G20 summit some time ago, Indonesia continues to focus on improving economic relations, especially in the area of trade and investment with African countries.
Indonesia’s positive influence on African countries can be used by Indonesian state-owned and private companies to encourage the “Go-Global” program in the region which is considered to have great potential.
During their stay in Algiers, in addition to holding meetings with state-owned companies and other stakeholders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ team also held intensive discussions with local media and influencers to echo the priorities of Indonesian economic diplomacy. The collaborative program with the team should further propel Indonesia’s economic diplomacy and enhance Indonesian SOEs presence in Africa in the future.
By: Hana Saada