Jakarta, 10 March 2008
Your Excellency Ambassador Roberto Palmieri,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good afternoon. I should like first of all, to extend my heartfelt appreciation to you Ambassador Palmieri for your efforts to improve the friendship and cooperation between Italy and Indonesia. Because of your and our common efforts, our bilateral relations today are as strong as ever and our cooperation as close and effective as it has ever been.
A few minutes ago, we signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of the Indonesian Trade and Promotion Centre (the ITPC) in the prestigious and beautiful city of Milano. By the usual reckoning, this is not an earthshaking event. The magnitude of the undertaking, in the eyes of most observers, would be if not quite modest, trivial to say the least.
But to my mind, it has a deeper meaning and a larger context. It is more than just one of nine trade promotion centres established by Indonesia all over the world— the others being in the major trading cities of Osaka, Dubai, Los Angeles, Budapest, Johannesburg, Sao Paolo, Sydney and Hamburg.
These centres are all about trade—the single human activity that contributed so much to the growth of human civilization. And this centre in Milano is particularly about the enlargement and deepening of trade relations between Italy and Indonesia. As a facilitating and intermediate agency for business-to-business contacts by which Indonesian products and services can have access to the Italian market, it represents the tremendous potential for economic cooperation between our two countries.
Indonesian exports to Italy grew by around 14% during the period 2002-2006. That growth was driven by the Italian market’s positive response to such Indonesian exports as coal, footwear, palm oil, chemicals, wood pulp, natural rubber and furniture. I am sure we can export many more kinds of products and in larger quantities as well to Italy.
On the other hand, Indonesia can certainly increase its imports of Italian products and services. And I certainly expect a two-way growth in our bilateral trade once our trade promotion centre in Milano starts operating.
Expectation less than that would be unacceptable.
Economic relations between Italy and Indonesia, however, are not only about trade. They are also about technical cooperation and investments. Let me therefore take this opportunity to send a message, through Ambassador Palmieri, to Italian investors: that the climate for investment in Indonesia has never been better and that the new Indonesia, the Indonesia that is a product of a decade of reformasi, has become a very reliable investment destination and partner.
We are now in the midst of a comprehensive infrastructures building programme. I see no reason why Italian investors cannot play a role in such a massive undertaking. As heirs to the legacy of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Italians are among the greatest builders of all time. The contribution of Italian entrepreneurs to this initiative could be unique and substantial.
And, finally, I like to think that the trade promotion centre we are launching today is also about friendship between two nations half a world away from each other but so close together in their aspirations. Italy is a European country that has served as the seat of Western civilization at the height of its glory. On the other hand, Indonesia is a Southeast Asian country that has become the home of two great Asian civilizations.
Therefore, there is much that we can learn from each other, and much that we can do for each other. And even more that we can do together.
Finally, let me assure you that in all your future initiatives in this country where you have made many friends, we will be your faithful partner.
Thank you very much.