Lenny Tristia Tambun, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is adamant about stopping the exports of raw materials – a practice which can be traced back to the Dutch colonial era – in an effort to bring added value to the Indonesian economy.
"For hundreds of years, Indonesia has been shipping raw materials overseas, mainly to Europe. Since the VOC [Vereenigde Oost Indische Compagnie] era, what we ship has been raw materials," Jokowi said at the 67th anniversary ceremony of Parahyangan University.
"That is why, since 2020, I have been saying how we cannot go on like this. We should stop," the president said.
Hitting the brakes on raw mineral ore exports will bring high added value to the economy. The Covid-19 pandemic should not hamper the government's efforts on transforming the economy, according to Jokowi.
He admitted that the ban on raw ore export had not been without challenges, as Indonesia came under fire for its decision. The European Union (EU) has filed a lawsuit against Indonesia's nickel ore export ban at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
"At first, we got backlash from other countries. But that is okay if it is just a backlash. We were brought to the WTO, but that is okay," Jokowi said while adding that Indonesia has its reasons to ban nickel ore export.
"Our argument is that we would like to create as many job opportunities as possible for our people," Jokowi said.
There is no changing Indonesia's mind in stopping raw material exports. Despite the lawsuit, Indonesia will proceed with its plans to stop exporting bauxite and copper ores.
"And this is what we call added values," Jokowi said.
The government will continue to encourage the use of the latest science and technology to manage Indonesia's natural resources.
It will also promote cooperation with other countries, particularly in establishing a processing industry in Indonesia, according to Jokowi.
"We are not in the era of selling raw materials anymore. We must [develop] the downstream industry and maximize the added value of our abundant natural resources," Jokowi said.