Evaluating the current state of Uzbek-Indonesian affairs, which aspects would You highlight as the most fruitful since 1994, when the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia started operating in Tashkent? How are these dimensions being developed between Indonesia and Uzbekistan?
-Bilateral relationship between Indonesia and Uzbekistan, since 1994, has grown steadily year by year in many spheres. Indonesia and Uzbekistan have similar positions in international and regional affairs; and support each other in the international arena. Both countries have signed several agreements since 1995. The Ministries of Foreign Affairs of the two countries have established a Committee for Bilateral Consultation. The Committee conducted two consultations which were held in Tashkent in 2005 and in Bandar Lampung, Indonesia, in 2006.
Such consultations have yielded very good results in which various fields of cooperation can meet their interests and develop each other in the future, especially in trade, economy, and investment spheres.
Indonesia-Uzbekistan relationships are also being developed in education and cultural spheres. For instance, Indonesian language has been taught in the Institute for Oriental Study and the University of World Languages in Tashkent for several years. Some students of Uzbekistan have received scholarships from the Indonesian Government to study language and art in Indonesia.
- Your Excellency, what spheres mostly would You underscore as the most significant for further cooperation between our countries?
- Nowadays, business circles of the two countries have enthusiasm to develop economic fields, especially after the Business Forum which was held in Jakarta in April 2007 where the companies of both countries have reached new agreements to develop cooperation in the future.
- How would You estimate the activity of two Indonesian companies in Uzbekistan ("Uzbekistan International" (UZI) and "PT Hikman Albros") and their contribution to the development of mutual cooperation of both countries?
- First, UZI is a joint venture company between Indonesian company "Bakrie Brothers" and Uzbekistan company "Uzbek Telecom" which works for fixed telephone system in the four provinces in Uzbekistan. UZI has installed almost 400 thousands lines in these areas, and they are planning to up-grade the capability from analogy to digital system. Bakrie Brothers has invested to the company of UZI and installed technology telecommunication. UZI has provided lots of works and access for telecommunication in rural and remote area in Uzbekistan.
Second, PT Hikmah Albros owns Le Grande Plaza, a four star hotel, and is 100% investment of Indonesian company. The hotel was bought by Indonesian businessman in 1996. In 2005, the hotel now is under management of PT Hikmah Albros.
The existence of Indonesian investment in Uzbekistan will strengthen the cooperation between the two countries that in turn it could increase cooperation in others fields. In the field of telecommunication, the rapid development of telecommunication technology, especially in Indonesia, could transfer to Uzbekistan through UZI company which Bakrie Brothers has a significant role in the company. Bakrie Brother is one of the main players of telecommunication business in Indonesia nowadays.
In the sphere of hotel management, Indonesia and Uzbekistan can cooperate in tourism sector. There are a number of Muslim historical sites in Uzbekistan which have a big potential market in Indonesia, and could become the second destination places for Indonesian Muslim tourists’ destination, after Middle East countries. Approximately 200 thousand Indonesian people annually perform pilgrim of Hajj, and about 5000 people per month go for Umrah and visit Muslim historical sites abroad. For this purpose, Le Grande Plaza will be a "home" for Indonesians who travel to Uzbekistan. To support this tourism sector, there must be a direct flight from Jakarta to Tashkent, and only Uzbekistan can provide an access for such flights.
- The commodity circulation of our countries in 2005 totaled in about US$ 4 million. How would You estimate the potential of economic and trade relations of our countries for 2007?
According to Indonesian Statistics Agency, trade between the two countries has increased significantly. In 2005, total trade turn over between Indonesia and Uzbekistan reached US$ 3,7 million and in 2006, the total trade achieved US$ 11,5 million in favour of Uzbekistan. The biggest commodity export from Uzbekistan to Indonesia is cotton, while Indonesian exports to Uzbekistan are tea and coconut oil.
To increase trade relations between the two countries ahead, Indonesia and Uzbekistan should foster bilateral direct trade and concentrate onto their major commodities export. For instance, every year Indonesia import cotton is US$ 600 million, and from that amount only US$ 10,2 million is a share of Uzbekistan. While Uzbekistan imports tea also in large amount every year and Indonesia is one of the biggest tea producers in the world. So the two countries could make a special arrangement for these two commodities. To support the increasing of trade relations, it is necessary for both countries to sign trade agreement immediately. Draft of Trade Agreement between the two countries has already been initiated, but it is not signed yet.
- Your Excellency, on April 12-13, there were held an Investment seminar and Business Forum in Jakarta. A delegation of entrepreneurs and officials from Uzbekistan attended the Forum. How does it affect the mutual relations of Uzbekistan and Indonesia in business sphere? To what level will the visit of the delegation change the state of economic relations between Indonesian and Uzbek entrepreneurs? What kinds of new agreements were signed between the countries?
- The Investment Seminar and Business Forum of Indonesia and Uzbekistan were held on 12-13 April 2007 at Aryaduta Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia. The events have given a breakthrough on how to increase the cooperation between the two countries. The event also opened the horizon of opportunity between businessmen to boost mutual entrepreneurial activity. Many opportunities can be developed by businessmen of both countries such as housing project in Tashkent, cooperation in the fields of railways and aircraft industries, tire production, tourism industries and direct trading between the two countries. As a practical result of strengthening of bilateral treaty base there were signed the agreement on cooperation in the sphere of tourism, memoranda of understanding on purchasing aircrafts ’IL-114-100’, on the establishment of the office of Uzbekistan Airways in Jakarta, on cooperation between the National Bank of Uzbekistan for Foreign Economic Activity and the Indonesian BCA, and between the National Bank of Uzbekistan for Foreign Economic Activity and PT Bank Rakyat Indonesia.