Nina Loasana, Jakarta – Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mahendra Siregar says the country has become more independent in producing medical gear and other health equipment, including personal protective equipment (PPE), thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said this was achieved within about three months of the novel coronavirus outbreak hitting the country.
"Now we have [health equipment] producers in every part of the production line, from supplying raw materials to manufacturing finished goods. The products also adhere to the international standards from the World Health Organization," Mahendra said in a virtual discussion on Wednesday.
He added the pandemic had disrupted global value chains for health equipment and PPE because most countries depended on very few other countries producing them. Mahendra called it "an unacceptable risk" that resulted in a global shortage of PPE and medicine.
"Thanks to joint efforts between the government and businesspeople, we have managed to [build upstream and downstream industries] for health equipment."
The deputy minister said he remained optimistic that the pandemic would also create new opportunities, even though COVID-19 had hit the country's economy hard.
He said the country recorded in May its lowest non-oil-and-gas exports for the last ten years.
Statistics Indonesia (BPS) previously announced that the country's export plunged 28.95 percent year-on-year (yoy) in May to US$10.53 billion, the lowest since July 2016, due to falling shipments of coal, coffee and palm oil. Oil and gas exports were down 42.6 percent yoy at $650 million.
"The World Trade Organization has predicted that the world will face a 6 percent economic recession due to the pandemic, deeper than previously predicted. Global trade is also expected to drop 25 to 30 percent this year. We already feel the impact," said Mahendra.
The deputy minister said he was still sure the country could manage to recover from the current crisis, as it had done to recover from the 1997-1998 Asian Financial Crisis.
"The crisis was severe at that time, because it hit not only the economy. However, Indonesia managed to turn the crisis into opportunities. I'm very sure we can do the same this time," Mahendra said.