Indonesia and the Netherlands officially launched on Wednesday a joint declaration on a comprehensive partnership in which the two countries expressed their wish for a future-focused and more tangible partnership, both in economic and non-economic fields.
“Today marks an important milestone in the relations between our two countries with the launch of the joint declaration on comprehensive partnership,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said after a meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the State Palace.
The joint declaration provides frameworks for intensifying the bilateral ties between the two countries.
“And it reaffirms our intention to work more closely in many areas, from foreign policy to human rights, from economic cooperation to sustainable development, from culture to education,” Rutte added.
The two countries also signed two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on triangular cooperation and on fisheries and aquaculture cooperation.
The Dutch prime minister arrived in Jakarta on Tuesday for a state visit, his first official trip since taking office in October 2010.
Rutte is accompanied by Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Minister Lilianne Ploumen, Agriculture Minister Sharon Dijksma and 15 CEOs and representatives from more than 100 Dutch companies, described by Rutte as “the biggest ever Dutch trade mission to Indonesia”.
Yudhoyono said it was indeed “a milestone, since both countries were motivated and agreed to boost bilateral cooperation in the future”.
“During the meeting, Indonesia expressed its intention to boost cooperation on trade and investment, water management and flood control, infrastructure and logistics development, agriculture and education,” Yudhoyono added.
Although the relationship between the two countries has improved year by year, no Indonesian president has visited the Netherlands since 1970. Yudhoyono planned to visit the country in October 2010, but the trip was abruptly canceled on the grounds of “national dignity”, after the Republik Maluku Selatan (RMS), a separatist group mostly comprising Netherlands-based Moluccans, demanded the President’s arrest in a lawsuit that accused him of human rights violations.
Speaking during his address at the Indonesia-Netherlands business forum earlier in the day, Rutte praised the extensive reforms taking place in Indonesia, which had ushered in the country’s rapid economic growth of around 6 percent in recent years.
The Dutch prime minister said that due to its economic growth, Indonesia offered tremendous business opportunities for Dutch companies in a wide range of areas, including agriculture, infrastructure, maritime affairs and logistics.
Rutte also made the point that, in order to achieve a deepening of their bilateral ties, both countries needed to think “outside the box”.
Business players from Indonesia and the Netherlands could also work together to tap regional opportunities in both the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union, he added.
Speaking at the same forum, Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan acknowledged the tremendous opportunities stemming from the two countries’ growing relationship, saying that the current trade figures had yet to reflect the real potential.
For a rule of thumb, bilateral trade should ideally stand at US$1.8 billion, or 1 percent of both countries’ combined gross domestic product (GDP), according to Gita. The Netherlands is among Indonesia’s largest foreign investors, with total investment across 131 projects reaching $966.5 million in 2012. The two countries traded $5.54 billion worth of commodities and products last year, of which Indonesia exported goods worth $4.66 billion and imported goods worth $880.23 million.