Thani ben Ahmed Al Zeyoudi
Fri 3 September 2021
A delegation from the United Arab Emirates is visiting Indonesia to discuss a comprehensive economic agreement, the main objective of which will be to strengthen our trade and investment ties. The visit comes as ambitious new projects between the UAE and Indonesia take off, including a joint effort to build the world’s largest floating photovoltaic solar power plant – a symbol of how next-generation technology can help solve some of our most pressing collective problems.
Of course, this is also taking place in a difficult global context. International supply chains are under pressure as the world seeks to recover from the pandemic. But if there are still very real difficulties to overcome, the pandemic must also be seen as an opportunity. It will force countries around the world to be more agile and innovative, and encourage new business partnerships that will support economic growth and contribute to the post-pandemic global recovery.
It is in this spirit that the discussions between the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia are taking place. Our lasting relationship dates back to the very founding of our nation – whose 50th anniversary we will be celebrating on December 2 of this year. Indonesia was one of the first countries to recognize the United Arab Emirates in 1971, with full diplomatic relations established in 1976.
Since then, our common values and shared interests as a Muslim majority country with young, multi-ethnic and multi-faith populations and strong business histories built on our respective positions as a regional crossroads have brought us closer together and make us natural partners. today.
This was the message conveyed by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates, when he was received in Jakarta on a state visit in July 2019 .
Sheikh Mohamed told President Joko Widodo of the UAE’s continued commitment to deepen ties between the two countries, especially in the areas of energy, infrastructure, medicine, food security and technology, but by inviting it to explore all the opportunities that can accelerate development and prosperity. of the two nations.
In 2021, two more meetings in March and April gave more substance to these commitments and it was clear that there was a mutual desire to continue more formal trade and investment relations, in particular to respond to the realities of a more fragmented world.
It is on the basis of these discussions, and with full understanding of our respective interests and our collective potential, that I travel to the Indonesian capital to discuss a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) that will further unite our country.
We believe that a CESP can be a platform to facilitate long-term sustainable economic growth in the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia, a way to establish a modern and dynamic partnership that strengthens trade and investment, creates new economic and social benefits and improves living standards.
Any such agreement will have a solid foundation. Bilateral trade topped US $ 11 billion in 2016-2020, with UAE importing US $ 8.5 billion in goods from Indonesia, making UAE one of the world’s top destinations for Indonesian exports . The ties between Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates have also been strengthened by a number of landmark projects and partnerships in recent years.
In addition to the $ 140 million deal to develop the world’s largest floating solar power plant, the Indonesian government became the largest sukuk issuer on Nasdaq Dubai in May 2019, while in March 2021 the Emirates United Arabs have announced their intention to invest $ 10 billion in the Indonesia Investment Authority. . There are also a number of long-standing collaborations in oil exploration, halal food industry, green technology, utilities, agriculture and education.
CEPA must therefore be seen as a natural evolution of our long-standing relationship and a mutual recognition of the efforts made to build stable, competitive and forward-looking economies. Indonesia is now among the 20 most competitive business environments at the World Economic Forum, while its gross domestic product of $ 1.1 trillion is a testament to the opportunities the country’s business community has been able to create for its people.
For its part, the United Arab Emirates sees Indonesia as an essential strategic partner at the heart of perhaps the most exciting and dynamic economic region in the world. By extension, Indonesian businesses can view the UAE as a gateway to the dynamic, ambitious and rapidly changing markets of the Middle East and Africa.
In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to speaking more with Indonesian investors, entrepreneurs and business owners, and discussing new opportunities that we can explore together. Whether it’s our internationally compatible legal environment, our 100% foreign ownership laws and efficient installation procedures, or our free zones, world-class ports and airports, and our high caliber multinational human resources, we believe the UAE provides an unparalleled launch pad for companies looking to target West Asia, Africa and beyond.
In an increasingly complex and rapidly changing environment, we believe that, far from withdrawing from the world, improving and expanding bilateral relations with key partners can help open up new areas of opportunity – and to strengthen mutual understanding.
As a friend and trusted ally for 45 years, Indonesia is at the forefront of the partners we want to work with to shape a new prosperous and resilient future.
The writer is Minister of State for Foreign Trade of the United Arab Emirates.