January 19, 2021

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Foreign Affairs Ministry of Indonesia says digitalisation a priority in 2021

Strengthening the digital economy is high on the list of the Indonesian government, as it remains steadfast in its commitment to boost economic activity through an improved e-governance framework. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs echoes this initiative in 2021. In her annual press statement, Minister Retno Marsudi joined the call of other government agencies in adopting technology to expedite operations. She said that this year, the department will focus on strengthening cooperation in the digital economy. It will also leverage digitalisation to promote inclusivity for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). 

To achieve this, the Minister added that they are set to participate in the second World Conference on Creative Economy to be held in Bali in May, a creative economy business forum for ASEAN and a forum on venture capital networks where they would be in collaboration with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council. 

She explained that to foster change, a stronger collective effort at global leadership is needed. In the field of diplomacy and foreign affairs, the Ministry said that to help spur economic growth, it plans to be more anticipative, adaptive and agile this year. 

She emphasised: “It is estimated that issues of democracy, human rights and the environment will increasingly become the world’s attention. Digitalisation will have a lot of influence on future economic activity. At the same time, digitalisation also presents an increasing challenge of cybercrime and opportunities for information infrastructure breakdown.” 

Last year, the Ministry exerted efforts to build upon old strategies by mixing in new digital programmes. In her speech, she stated that they held several dialogues with private companies engaged in digital services in a bid to attract more investments. They have likewise talked with companies in various industries including pharmaceuticals, renewable energy and manufacturing. 

The foreign affairs department also continued to implement communication strategies with the public and other agencies, on top of strengthening digital initiatives amid the pandemic. This, the Ministry said, was accomplished by extending Indonesia’s satellite filing in the 113BT Orbit Slot. 

These initiatives laid out by the foreign affairs department add to the list of undertakings various agencies in government have introduced. For instance, as reported by OpenGov Asia, social assistance programmes are now being digitised to cater to the demands of the new normal. 

Contributions in healthcare, tourism, economic policies 

The Ministry likewise contributed to other key areas in the public sector in 2020. One of these is in the tourism sector, where it encouraged the reopening of doors to foreign tourists by supporting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. 

Significant efforts to expand market access and regional economic integration were also pushed by the Ministry by encouraging the implementation of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA), an economic pact entered into between the two nations in July 2020. It likewise pushed last year for the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) under a memorandum of understanding to implement non-tariff measures. 

On top of these, the Minister said it was able to support government measures of promoting investment by holding talks with businesses keen on diversifying their assets and investments in Indonesia. It explained that more investments would help strengthen the Job Creation Law passed also last year. 

In the field of healthcare, the foreign affairs department admitted that the past year introduced many challenges to the government. However, it also acknowledged valuable lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the importance of fostering global cooperation, economic resilience and adopting multilateralism. 

To mitigate the economic impacts of the pandemic, the department fast-tracked several policies aimed at ramping up economic activity without sacrificing compliance with health protocols. It discussed the Travel Corridor Agreement (TCA) with Asian economies including South Korea, China and Singapore. A round of TCA negotiations with Japan is still ongoing. 

With regard to vaccine acquisition and distribution, the Ministry added that the government is actively securing fresh batches of vaccines to achieve goals of having the majority of the population vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus in the coming months. It does this by partnering with various pharmaceutical companies and by participating in investors’ councils.