NOW! Jakarta spoke to Jennifer Mathews, Commissioner, Government of Western Australia in Indonesia about the deep connections between Indonesia and the state.

Jennifer Mathews, Commissioner, Government of Western Australia in Indonesia. Photo by Raditya Fadilla?NOW!JAKARTA

Please tell us about the role of the Government of Western Australia’s office in Indonesia. What are some of the support mechanisms offered to WA companies here?
Western Australia has had an office in Indonesia since 1992 and it is one of a network of overseas offices. Interestingly, Western Australia was one of the first Australian jurisdictions to establish an office here in Indonesia. Our first was in Surabaya before we moved here to Jakarta.  

The establishment of an office in Indonesia signals the importance Western Australians place on our relationship with Indonesians as trade partners.

The primary role of our staff members in this office is to promote trade and investment between Western Australia and Indonesia and we have done a lot of work to determine which industry sectors to focus on.
The office is an entry point, into the Indonesian market, for Western Australians wanting to do business with Indonesia and as part of this we offer advice and support.

This support includes providing information about the Indonesian market; the operating environment and the regulatory framework.

Office staff members also facilitated introductions to Indonesian government staff members and other Indonesian agencies. This office plays an important role in developing people-to people links between Western Australia and Indonesia. We see it as building effective trade and investment relations.”

Trade relationships with Indonesia are not new for Western Australia. Western Australia’s relationship with Indonesia actually dates back to the 1600s when fishermen from Makassar sailed to the Kimberly-region of Western Australia to collect “trepang” (sea cucumbers) and through this trade they established strong links with Aboriginal communities in those areas.

What are some of the industries supported?
Our office has identified several key sectors where we see partnership opportunities between Indonesia and Western Australia and the potential for expanding trade and investment. These sectors include education and training; tourism; mining; agribusiness and food.

There are also new, emerging sectors including smart cities and the digital economy. We have also identified opportunities arising out of Indonesia’s strong economic growth and rising middle class.

Education is a high priority sector for Western Australia and we are keen to promote Perth as a destination for Indonesian students.

The State Government recently launched its International Education Strategy:  Where bright futures begin : International Education in Perth, Western Australia 2018-2025. This strategy outlines the benefits of studying in Perth including that it is a great place to live, learn and launch careers.

We also know that vocational training and upskilling the workforce is a priority for Indonesia and this is another potential opportunity for Western Australian providers to partner with Indonesia, particularly in areas including tourism, hospitality and mining and construction.”

Western Australia is also a superb destination for tourists and we see many opportunities to promote Western Australia as a premier tourism destination to Indonesians.

We have the advantage of direct flights between Jakarta and Perth, with Garuda, five days a week and Perth is just a three hour flight from Bali.

So Western Australia is a great place to visit for a short break or a weekend getaway… We have a wonderful new stadium in Perth that hosts international soccer matches and the latest musical concerts.. There are also a number of very exciting festivals coming up in Perth is thethe Perth International Arts Festival. It will take place in Perth from 8 February-3 March .  This will showcase a number of the world’s best artists alongside Western Australia’s creative and indigenous culture.  There is also the Fringe Festival which starts in January – the third largest fringe festival in the world.

I would really encourage your Indonesian readers to jump on a plane and spend a weekend in Perth over this period.  The weather is great and with everything going on, there is a fantastic atmosphere in Perth.  

In Mining, Western Australia is a significant resources State, with major exports including iron ore and LNG. We don’t just export commodities, Western Australia has developed world class expertise in mining- related equipment, technology, and services.

For example, we are the world’s leader in mining software. This is an area where we see an opportunity for Western Australian companies to partner with Indonesia  to support productivity and expertise. We also have capabilities in renewable energy such as wind and solar and micro-grid techonology.

Agriculture and food: Western Australia  exports a significant amount of wheat, beef and live cattle to Indonesia.. We’re now starting to look at how we can promote premium food products into the market here. We recently arranged for a delegation from Indonesia to visit the Margaret River region in Western Australia  to attend the Gourmet Escape wine and food festival and that was very successful.

So we hope to see more gourmet food products from WA in Indonesian supermarkets.

Another key role of the Western Australian office is to support our Sister-State relationship with East Java, which dates back to 1990.

Which industries have seen the most gains from this relationship?
The sectors I’ve mentioned present the best match between what Indonesia needs and what Western Australia  has to offer.

It’s then  up to businesses to come forward and make it work.

We also observe  and keep up with current trends in Indonesia, such as the  growth in the digital economy.  This will also present opportunities to partner and learn from each other.  

Tell us about the sister state relationship with East Java and the role this relationship plays in the larger framework of trade and investment.
The Sister- State relationship between Western Australia and East Java is a very important part of our engagement with Indonesia. It began with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Western Australia and East Java in 1990. The MoU is aimed at promoting cooperation in  trade and investment between Western Australia and East Java. Also, in other key areas such as Human Resources Development, Mining and Energy, and developing people- to- people links through Cultural and Social exchanges.

For example, in June 2018 Football West in Perth hosted a very successful visit by the U19 Persebaya soccer team from Surabaya. This was a wonderful experience for the young team from Surabaya.

The MoU and the Sister State hasa strong government to government component and there have been a number of two-way ministerial visits and parliamentary delegations.. In fact, we have recently  held  a meeting of the joint working group of the Sister State relationship in Perth  to determine priorities for 2019. This will include cooperation in education and training, culture and the arts; and building city to city links between with Surabaya, Malang and Batu.

This article is originally from paper. Read NOW!Jakarta Magazine Jnuary 2019 issue“Celebrating 10 Years of NOW!JAKARTA”. Available at selected bookstore or SUBSCRIBE here.

Ranjit Jose

Ranjit Jose

Ranjit is a previous Editor of NOW! Jakarta. A cultural journalist and anthropologist by training, he has reported on arts and culture for a variety of publications in the USA and Indonesia.