The Victorian Government Trade and Investment office in Jakarta is part of a broader international footprint. Opened in 2013, the office is helmed by Brett Stevens who serves as Commissioner for the Southeast Asia region, including the office’s outposts in Singapore and Malaysia. NOW! Jakarta spoke to him about the relationship between Victoria and Indonesia.
Please tell us about the role of this office in building trade links with Indonesia?
We help Victorian companies’ engagement in Indonesia, we help introduce goods and services from Victoria and we facilitate foreign direct investment from Indonesia into Victoria. We recognise the opportunities and the position that Indonesia plays regionally and globally and as such, the Commissioner for Southeast Asia is based here. In addition to our engagement with Jakarta, we’re heavily invested into activities in Jogjakarta, Bandung, Surabaya and Medan.
We have key focus areas for Indonesia, including education. We have approximately 6,000 Indonesian students studying in Victoria, which makes us one of the most favoured international destinations for Indonesian students. We’re also doing a lot of work in the vocational educational space which is about bringing our TAFE’ to Indonesia to assist in programme development and delivery of training to hospitality, manufacturing and tourism.
Exporting premium Victorian food products is an important part of what we do. We’re quite strategic in terms of the products we’re assisting with. They tend to be predominantly premium red meat, horticultural products and beverages such as wine, which has seen steady growth in demand from Indonesian consumers.
Our 3rd key area of focus is the professional services sector, where we provide support to Victorian companies in the fin tech, ICT, architecture and infrastructure sectors.
What are the support networks available to these companies.
It varies. We work with a whole range of businesses, from multi-million-dollar companies to small mom and pop places. Because we are dealing with a broad spectrum of businesses, we tailor bespoke support to the needs of the companies.
Our primary focus is to provide advice on market entry, to support market knowledge and the types of considerations that need to be made when entering the Indonesian market. We also participate in and bring delegations of Victorian companies to trade fairs in Indonesia.
What are some of the results you’ve seen?
We have seen a much greater presence of Victorian goods and services here. If you go to the high-end markets you will see Victorian products on shelves and this is a measure of success for us. We have achieved that by bringing Indonesian entities to Melbourne, too.
We have brought down over 500 Indonesian businesses to Victoria across a range of sectors and food and beverage is a huge component. Just in September we had 20 Indonesian food & beverage distributors meet with Melbourne producers.
We now see Indonesia growing as an export destination across all categories. We also see an increase in the number of students in Melbourne. There’s also more delivery of TAFE vocational training systems here.
Tell us more about the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. What are some new and exciting events planned this year?
We’ve just announced that we’re going to conduct a brand new event which is going to incorporate the best things that happen with the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) and Royal Melbourne Agricultural Society (RMAS), at an event called ‘Global Table’. We’re going to bring together the activities of MFWF and RMAS to broaden the scope of this event, such as including the latest developments in agri-tech.
This will be a major event, with over 5,000 attendees of which we’re targeting at least 500 from Southeast Asia and Indonesia will be a significant contributor to this.
You’ve mentioned TAFE. How significant is the TAFE contribution to Indonesia?
It’s been very much driven by conversations and the work we have been doing with Indonesian Ministries and key Indonesian Ministers. We’re also taking on board the directives from President Joko Widodo, in which he’s identified the need to transition the Indonesian economy from low value commodities, to high value manufacturing.
We are conducting a pilot project specifically with Indonesia, looking at ways that we can build upon the identified skills gaps and working with Government Ministries such as BKPM, Ministry of Manpower, Tourism and KADIN.
Victoria has 12 TAFE entities and it represents 80 per cent of the vocational training outside Australia. We’re excited by the opportunities that the TAFE project presents in addressing these skills gaps and providing a foundation for economic growth and improving vocational education training standards in Indonesia.