March 24, 2017

Indonesia-Netherlands’ Partnership Beyond 2.0: The Highlights of the Relationship between Indonesia and the Netherlands

By H.E. I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The relations between Indonesia and the Netherlands dates back years ago. This relation, which can be characterized as very close and dynamic, have been subjected to various ups and downs. It appears useful to draw a lesson from the developments in both nations’ mutual history in order to maintain and deepen the ties and cooperation in the years to come.

At present, relations and cooperation between Indonesia and the Netherlands have been moving in a favourable direction. It is very encouraging to note that not only in the political and economic fields, but also in areas, such as education, science, culture, and tourism, substantial progress has been made.

The year 2013 is an important year for both countries as the two nations elevated their relationship into a more comprehensive and strategic partnership 2.0. Prime Minister Rutte and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono launched the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership that year. By achieving a comprehensive and strategic partnership, Indonesia and the Netherlands are no longer considered as individual countries, but more in the context of international cooperation.

The enhancement of the relations between Indonesia and the Netherlands is marked by the visits of both countries’ head of nations and leaders. President of the Republic of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, made an official working visit to the Netherlands on 21-22 April 2016 and as a return, Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, visited Indonesia on 21-23 November 2016. Within the two visits, both countries signed numbers of memorandum of understandings and agreements in different fields of development, in particular in maritime cooperation, business, infrastructure, health, education, agriculture, land, and tourism. The two countries have taken this momentum to boost their bilateral relations with concrete cooperation to reach Indonesia-Netherlands Beyond 2.0.

Trade between Indonesia and the Netherlands in 2016 has the tendency to increase according to the data from Centraal Bureau voor Statistiek (CBS). The bilateral trade figure reached € 3,01 billion in 2016. It is also important to note that the Dutch export to Indonesia is slowly increasing since 2014.

The Dutch investment is number 4 of the top 10 foreign investors in Indonesia. Between 2010 – 2015, Netherlands is the highest investor in Indonesia with 37.47% out of investments from all other EU member countries. In 2015, Dutch investment in Indonesia reached $1.31 billion in 423 projects, and in 2016 reached $ 1.47 billion in 840 projects.

In terms of the food security cooperation, both countries also agreed to set up several projects in the area of climate smart agriculture. On the water management cooperation, a joint project was created to conceive a Master plan that facilitates and encourages flood proof and sustainable development of Jakarta.

Indonesia and the Netherlands also agreed to work together to promote a sustainable palm oil production and trade. The agreement includes Indonesia’s commitment to work on a total ban on the production of non-sustainable palm oil in the next several years.

The cooperation between Indonesia and the Netherlands in counter-terrorism is developing well. Cooperation with the Netherlands has been instrumental to provide a better coordination for the eradication of radicalization and extremism. Indonesia and Netherlands has been working together in exchanging information, eradicating Foreign Terrorist Fighters, capacity building, and de-radicalization by inter alia promoting interfaith dialogue.

In tourism, the number of tourist arriving from the Netherlands is among the largest from Europe. The Netherlands also remains among the most popular destinations for Indonesian tourists. Since 2013 to 2016, the numbers of Dutch tourist coming to Indonesia keep increasing. In 2016, it is recorded 195,463 Dutch tourist visited Indonesia, or a double-digit increase of 13.6% than the numbers of the previous year.

It is also interesting to point out that the cooperation in educational and cultural fields has been expanding. An increasing exchange of student and closer cooperation between Dutch and Indonesian universities are the order of the day.

A personal approach to the relations is of crucial importance in the development of the bilateral relations between the two nations. To this end, personal contact between our two peoples should be enhanced and deepened. These personal contacts are indeed very important to strengthen the ties between the Dutch people and Indonesians. Needless to say, there are numbers of Dutch people and Indonesians who have personal and close linkage and affinity relationship, which should serve as a solid foundation for enhancing the bilateral cooperation.

The dynamic relations between Indonesia and the Netherlands in the past 5 years is significant in the further enhancement of the bilateral relations between the two nations in medium term of 5-10 years. Some aspects that have not yet been discussed in the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership have been the focus of both nations to enhance their cooperation in years to come.

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Photography by the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in The Hague.

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