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Taking Korea-Indonesia ties to next level

Marking the 50th anniversary of bilateral relations, business forum explores ways to enhance partnerships in the green transition, healthcare

By Shim Woo-hyun

Published : March 24, 2023 - 21:51

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Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesian Coordinating Maritime and Investment Affairs Minister, delivers his keynote speech at a business forum co-hosted by Herald Corp. in Seoul on Friday. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald) Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesian Coordinating Maritime and Investment Affairs Minister, delivers his keynote speech at a business forum co-hosted by Herald Corp. in Seoul on Friday. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

More than 300 high-level government officials and business representatives from South Korea and Indonesia gathered for a forum in Seoul, Friday, to explore ways to enhance business partnerships between the two countries and take their bilateral ties to the next level.

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and Indonesia, Herald Corp., publisher of The Korea Herald and Herald Business, co-hosted the forum, titled “Business Forum on 50 Years of Indonesia-Korea Relations,” together with the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Seoul and the Indonesia Investment Promotion Center in Seoul.

“We are not a small country anymore. We can play as a global player. With Korea, we can become good partners,” Indonesian Coordinating Maritime and Investment Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said in his keynote speech, touting the Southeast Asian country’s investment potential.

Pandjaitan stressed that Indonesia’s abundant raw materials and Korea’s advanced technologies will create positive synergy in accelerating his country’s envisioned transition from a commodity-based economy to an industry-based economy.

In order to lure more Korean companies to do business in the burgeoning Indonesian economy, he added his government is ready to offer them hefty incentives in building a competitive industrial ecosystem centering on futuristic and sustainable sectors such as renewable energy and healthcare.

Bang Ki-sun, Korea’s Vice Minister of Economy and Finance, who delivered congratulatory remarks on behalf of Minister Choo Kyung-ho, also expressed high hopes for an enhanced partnership between the two countries.

“Trade volume between the two countries is expected to reach a new high this year, based on our comprehensive partnership agreement signed earlier in January,” he said. “Indonesia is an important investment destination for Korean companies. Now is the time to further increase our cooperation for the next 50 years to come.”

Won Hee-ryong, Korea’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, also attended the event following his visit to Indonesia last week, during which he met with senior government officials and asked for their support for Korean businesses’ foray into the country’s ever-evolving transportation industry.

After the opening ceremony, two separate business sessions on electric vehicles and healthcare, respectively, were held to discuss more specific business opportunities in Indonesia, the largest economy in Southeast Asia.

At the EV session, Indonesia’s government officials introduced the nation’s burgeoning EV market, while Korean businesses, especially Hyundai Motor Group, which is operating its first overseas EV plant in Indonesia, showed their strong will to add forces to build the industrial ecosystem overall.

Indonesia, equipped with abundant minerals, aims to become the largest lithium battery producer globally by 2027. Hyundai aims to cement its EV leadership by bolstering its own business ecosystem in Indonesia. Currently, construction work is underway for the carmaker’s battery cell and battery pack plants with production set to start next year.

In the healthcare session, the Indonesian government asked Korean pharmaceutical and biotech companies to come and join its ongoing efforts to upgrade its healthcare system to respond better to surging medical demand coming from the nation’s fast-growing population.

SK Plasma, among others, aims high with its $250 million blood products plant, which is expected to ease the supply constraints of blood products that have long been dependent solely on imports.

Following the official program, a networking session was arranged for individual meetings for participating companies, during which they got consultations directly from visiting Indonesian government officials on their forays into the market or expansions of their existing operations.