2020 has been a very tough year for all of us and the world. However, such optimism must continue to be strengthened as we enter 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic provides valuable lessons on the importance of global cooperation to bolster world economic resilience. Unlike the paradigmatic set-aside rivalry that coexists between the US and China, the global pandemic has strengthened the strategic relations on investment between Indonesia and Qatar.
Qatar and Indonesia bilateral trade have shown tremendous improvement even during the COVID-19. According to Fachry Thaib, Chairman of Kadin KT30K1 during a virtual dialogue and business matchmaking titled ‘Trade and Investment Opportunities for Indonesia & Qatar in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Calendar of Events’, the trade volume between Qatar and Indonesia has increased from $828m in 2015 to $1.1bn in 2020. During the webinar, Hassan was joined by his Qatari counterpart, ambassador Fawziya Edrees Salman al-Sulaiti, as well as Qatar-Indonesia Business Council president (QIBC) Farhan al-Sayed; Indonesia-Qatar Business Council (IQBC) president Hendra Hartono Turman.
“Despite the COVID-19 challenge, our trade volume has reached almost $1bn last year. Also we have seen Qatari investments in Indonesia through the presence of Ooredoo, Qatar National Bank, Nebras Power, and Qatar Investment Authority. Something we should be grateful. I believe there is still a lot of room for improvement, and I am convinced that our trade volume can be increased in various cooperations in general,” Hasan also added the bilateral trade between the two countries have shown an increasing trend of 11% annual growth rate from 2015 to 2019.
The Ambassador expressed optimism for the business sectors and went on to reiterate Qatar’s resilience amid the previous blockade and the ongoing pandemic. He also encouraged the private sectors of both countries to maximise the available trade opportunities in both countries so the trade volume can be increased in various cooperations in general. The focus for both side now is to put efforts to diversify and look into areas of co-operation for the upcoming trade and investment opportunities, including with travel and tour agencies, and restaurants and hotels, in anticipation of tourists that would attend the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup Calendar of Events in Qatar.
“There are a lot of opportunities to explore, such as in banking and finance, as well as other sectors,” “It is very important to dig deeper and identify what sectors would be of interest between the two parties. So far, investments in Indonesia are coming from government-related business activities, hence I would like to encourage the private sector to explore opportunities in both countries.” Hassan explained. Turman added that the business matching aspect of the webinar will explore investment opportunities in the fields of processed foods, beverages, fisheries, cables and fibre cement, wood and paper, jewellery and pearls, ceramics, oud, and handwoven products. During the event, President of Indonesia Qatar Business Council Hendra Hartono Turman also presented the priority list of products imported by Qatar from Indonesia in 2019. He added that Indonesia ranked 23rd in the list of countries Qatar imported products from in 2019 with a total value of $168.394m. Thaib also mentioned that apart from investments in the energy sector, the Halal industry also presents some opportunities for trade between the two countries. Both countries could forge investment ventures in halal and agriculture industries, tourism infrastructure, paper and stationery, garments, automotive spare parts, tyre and car batteries.
The upcoming World Cup 2022 will open new opportunities for Indonesian supplies and services sectors. “Restaurants and hotels will not only serve the World Cup event but will be essential for future tourism activities and growth in Qatar and the region” Thaib said. “This should be seen as one of the positive signs for Qatari businessmen to expand their presence in Indonesia” said Indonesian ambassador Ridwan Hassan in that webinar on Tuesday.
Indonesia’s recently implemented Omnibus Law also aims to improve the ease of investment in the country, this is one of the positive signs for Qatari businesspeople to expand their businesses to Indonesia and boosting job opportunities and economic growth. Omnibus law has prepared a variety of convenience; both in terms of licensing and lightening of taxation. It is in this context that Indonesia Qatar is seeking to strengthen their ties. Al-Sayed said that the recent diplomatic breakthrough in the GCC and went on to encourage Indonesian businesspeople to invest in Qatar’s Free Zones. Thaib also encourages the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and IQBC to promote the Indonesian economy to open a new horizon for Qatari businessmen and encourage them to invest in Indonesia.
Qatar’s Ambassador to Indonesia H E Fawziya Edrees Salman Al Sulaiti, said that Qatar is keen to increase its trade investment with Indonesia, which is South East Asia’s largest economy and one of Qatar’s most important trade partners. “Qatar and Indonesia hold special strategic relations and are keen to promote it through many agreements and MoUs, which form the foundation to level up the trade investment indicators. Indonesia is a strategic trade partner for Qatar and South East Asia.”
Hasan added, “The economic opportunity in Indonesia is great, with Indonesia’s 270 million people with the growing middle and upper class in the country. There are good opportunities in various sectors, as well as in tourism and aviation service with the opening of new destinations,”.