IA-CEPA ECP Katalis (Katalis) is a unique, five-year (2020-25) government-backed business development program unlocking the vast potential of economic partnership between Australia and Indonesia. Established under the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement Economic Cooperation Program (IA-CEPA ECP). Katalis complements existing Australian development program activities with a commercially oriented, bilateral approach, placing gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) at the centre of everything we do.
NOW! Jakarta met and discussed the role of KATALIS with its Director, Paul Bartlett.
1. What was the most important learning for you coming out of the AIBC Conference?
I had the pleasure of attending the AIBC Conference back in November with a few of my colleagues at Katalis. As always, it was great to be in beautiful, sunny Darwin, with its multicultural community.
The first thing that comes to mind is how close our two countries are and just how that proximity makes Australia and Indonesia natural partners. We heard it in every session during the two-day conference about how businesses across the aisle are increasingly getting together and converging around common interests. For a program such as Katalis, these collaborations are great as they reflect what we’re trying to do – that is, create and amplify inclusive economic partnerships between Indonesia and Australia.
2. What actual actions are you going to take as a result of the discussions you had there, if any?
There were some very interesting conversations that the team had with businesses during the conference, some of which were new and others a continuation of earlier discussions. At Katalis we’re always looking for opportunities to expand our growing portfolio, so anytime a business comes up to us we’re very excited to be learning about them and identifying the right approach to partnership. There’s shared responsibility between Katalis and business beneficiaries in implementing activities, so it is critical for us to lay out the engagement approach early on.
3. What are you hoping or perhaps influencing, your key partners will do to make progress better and faster?
The way Katalis works is that we support business beneficiaries implement their bilateral business vision. This vision could be to increase bilateral investment, trade or market share in a particular product, service, or sector. We do believe that by working with Katalis businesses can progress better and faster. Katalis’s unique offering is that we have the backing of both the Government of Indonesia and the Australian government. As such, by engaging with us, and knowing we have the full support of both governments, we are able to help both Indonesian and Australian businesses de-risk their approach to implementing their business vision. Our end goal is to maximise the benefits of the Indonesia-Australia CEPA and for the two countries to grow together.
How we get there is by collaborating with businesses to pursue opportunities and supporting those opportunities that meet our Investment Criteria. That’s really the key message that we convey to businesses in encouraging them to work with us.
We’re both responsive and proactive in our engagement with Indonesian and Australian businesses. If you have an innovative, commercial idea that can increase bilateral trade and investment, we’d love to hear from you.
4. What sectors do you see as a) having the great potential for quick progress to address the huge trade shortfall, b) having the greatest challenges, and what should be done to overcome them?
We’re working across a broad range of sectors and value chains, many of which are interconnected. These include health, digital services, tourism, skills/training/education, advanced manufacturing (including EVs), agrifood, other agriculture and ag-tech, finance, green energy, the creative economy and professional/ICT/telco services. These areas have been identified as being in the mutual interest of both Indonesia and Australia and the areas that will drive mutually beneficial, inclusive growth. Rather than challenges, we see plenty of opportunities, particularly in Indonesia. Many observers see Indonesia as being a global top-five economy within two to three decades. The Economist was right in calling Indonesia ‘the overlooked giant’.
Australia is well aware of Indonesia’s strong prospects and is committed to deepening its bilateral economic relationship and expanding trade and investment ties through the Indonesia-Australia CEPA. As the economic cooperation program under the IA-CEPA, the path assigned to Katalis is to pursue greater market access, better-integrated markets, and enhanced labour market skills. That is our guiding light in unlocking and enhancing the economic potential between our two countries.