Switzerland expected to boost investment in Indonesia

Indonesia and Switzerland have expressed their commitment to improved bilateral ties, particularly on investment, as President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Wednesday welcomed Swiss Vice President Doris Leuthard at the State Palace in Central Jakarta.

Citing 2015 data, which show a 102 percent increase in trade volumes compared to the previous year, with Indonesia enjoying a surplus, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said the two countries were confident about two-way trade.

“We also agree to continue efforts to increase investment, particularly Swiss investment in Indonesia,” said Retno, who accompanied Jokowi to the courtesy meeting at the Palace.

At present, there are about 150 Swiss companies in Indonesia, including food and beverage giant Nestle, which operates four factories in the country.

Swiss companies are among the dominant players in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, agricultural, biotech, banking and insurance sectors.

Leuthard’s delegation included representatives of 10 Swiss companies operating in various markets, from civil aviation to energy efficiency.

Retno said the two countries had also discussed progress on negotiations between Indonesia and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which comprises four European nations that are among the world’s richest in terms of income per capita: Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

“Negotiations on EFTA will resume soon, and there is very significant progress on efforts to improve economic cooperation,” she said.

The two countries are set to renew their aviation cooperation agreement on Thursday, which is expected to lead to more flights between Indonesia and Switzerland, said Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan, who also accompanied Jokowi to the meeting on Wednesday.

“Tomorrow [Thursday], we will also discuss a number of issues on transportation, including railways and aviation,” Jonan added.

Earlier that day, Leuthard and Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Rizal Ramli discussed cooperation in numerous fields, including maritime affairs, tourism, energy and public transportation, as reported by Antara news agency.

Rizal said Indonesia had asked Switzerland to help the archipelagic country produce skilled human resources in the hospitality and tourism sector as Indonesia planned to build a tourism school near the Mandalika special economic zone in West Nusa Tenggara.

The government has also invited Switzerland to seek opportunities in developing Indonesia’s public transportation.

The Swiss government, which has experience and technology in hydro energy, solar power and electricity, had expressed its intention to build a solar cell factory in Indonesia, Rizal added.

“[…] We welcome [this initiative], since we do not want to merely serve as a market; we want to be a
producer [of solar cells] for other ASEAN countries,” Rizal said as quoted by Antara.

Meanwhile, Leuthard said last year’s trade between Indonesia and Switzerland was quite strong at around US$2 billion.

Leuthard also paid a visit to the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) to observe progress on an existing cooperation project — initiated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and its meteorology and climatology office — to increase Indonesia’s capacity in measuring greenhouse gases.

Later on Wednesday, Jokowi also held a meeting with visiting Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov, in which the two expressed their commitment to improve bilateral ties, particularly on economic cooperation.

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