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HomePoliticsPut Southeast Asia at the centre of the UK’s Indo-Pacific Tilt

Put Southeast Asia at the centre of the UK’s Indo-Pacific Tilt

36. Indonesia is the most populous country in Southeast Asia, the G20 economy, the third largest democracy in the world, and the largest majority of Muslims in the world. For these and other reasons, the UK should prioritize strengthening relations with Indonesia. Historically, Britain has assembled Southeast Asian involvement around its former colonies of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. Indonesia is often overlooked in London, partly because of its lack of historical involvement and its large and difficult place to do business.

37. The first challenge the Foreign Minister has begun to tackle is to strengthen high-level political involvement with Indonesia. Indonesian President Joko Widodo came to London in 2016, but the British Prime Minister has not visited Jakarta since David Cameron in 2015. Jakarta.This will be a great channel for deepening strategic and practical conversations between the two
Country.

38. Economic diplomacy, including development cooperation but focused on promoting trade and investment, should be the main focus. Both countries can get a lot in this regard. Now outside the EU, the UK needs to find new markets and new investment destinations for its products and services. The pandemic has slowed Indonesia’s economic growth, but Indonesia’s medium-term outlook is solid. The expansion of Indonesia’s middle class will provide many opportunities for UK companies that are willing to navigate the sometimes complex but often rewarding Indonesian business scene.

39. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has a laser-like focus on promoting economic growth, so the best way to get his support is to build and educate more physical infrastructure. And to support his ambition to improve medical care and accelerate the transition to a digital economy. The relationship between bilateral trade and investment is underdeveloped, so there should be plenty of growth opportunities. The secret to success is to understand the real challenges of doing business in Indonesia, not wanting it, but better for government-backed companies to overcome them. Is to be there.

40. The UK should also work more closely with Indonesia on the issue of global economic governance. Indonesia chaired the G20 in 2022 and, in a broader sense, is keen to play a larger role in the global institutions, which have been declining in recent years. As a large developing country and the fourth most populous country in the world, Indonesia’s voice is important, and the UK listens to Jakarta’s concerns and cooperates in areas of mutual benefit, such as WTO reform. is needed.

41. There is room to do more with Indonesia on internal and external security, coordinating with close UK partners such as the United States and Australia, which have extensive relations and cooperation programs across law enforcement, anti-terrorism, maritime and military fields. There is.

42. Partnerships between governments so far can only win a country. People-to-people connections are the cornerstone of the most successful bilateral relations. The UK is widely popular in Indonesia and this is a good starting point. Sadly, Indonesia is little known in the UK. SOAS, my alma mater, is the only UK university that offers advanced research in Indonesian. Governments, parliamentarians, businesses, universities, etc. of both countries must work together to raise awareness of Indonesia in the United Kingdom and promote better mutual understanding.

43. The United Kingdom also needs to strengthen its involvement with Indonesia’s civil society, which remains the most vibrant democracy in Southeast Asia, despite recent pressures on human rights. This can be done through development cooperation with local NGOs, but also by promoting ties between Indonesian NGOs and corresponding NGOs inside and outside the region. Many Indonesian NGOs were already in financial difficulty before COVID-19 and the pandemic exacerbated these tensions, but these organizations are to support Indonesian society at a very difficult time. Is needed more than ever.

44. Beyond the traditional areas of civil society focus, such as environment, law reform, gender equality and media freedom, the UK is more active in promoting digital rights and digital literacy in Indonesia. Should be. The future of the Internet will be shaped in countries like Indonesia with the world’s most active social media users, and the Internet will also shape the future of Indonesia.

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