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Indonesia, Papua New Guinea discuss potential SOE investment

Jakarta Globe - March 21, 2023

Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – The senior diplomats of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea on Tuesday had talks of attracting Indonesian investors, particularly the state-owned enterprises or SOEs, into Port Moresby.

Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi has just concluded a joint ministerial commission meeting with her Papua New Guinean counterpart Justin Tkatchenko. The two countries discussed driving boosting economic cooperation, among others, by having Indonesia's SOEs invest in Papua New Guinea's pharmaceuticals.

"We discussed the possible cooperation in engaging Indonesia's SOEs to invest in PNG [Papua New Guinea], among others, in the energy sector, telecommunication services, and pharmaceutical industry," Retno told reporters in Jakarta shortly after the meeting with Tkatchenko.

According to Retno, there is still room for greater trade, also "beyond cross-border trade". The reopening of the Wutung-Skouw Border in 2022 following a pandemic-related closure had spurred the number of Papua New Guineans visiting the Skouw market. But Indonesia wants a more robust two-way trade, which may be achievable with a streamlined customs clearance and stronger logistics network.

"As well as encouraging the establishment of an Indonesia-PNG joint business council. In the bigger picture, we agreed to take concrete steps to start the negotiations for a preferential trade agreement," Retno said.

"Indonesia is committed to expediting the process by preparing a joint feasibility study that will incorporate the views of our two countries," she added.

Tkatchenko said his country "has a lot to learn from Indonesia".

"You've done it well. Through our SMEs [small and medium enterprises] and SOEs, we can benefit from each other greatly, through power, energy, mining, and petroleum. These are the areas that Papua New Guinea shares," Tkatchenko told the same press briefing.

In March 2022, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo met with Papua New Guinean Prime Minister James Marape at the Bogor Palace. Jokowi at the time instructed his ministers, including SOE Minister Erick Thohir, and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) to go on a trade investment mission to Papua New Guinea.

Trade Ministry data shows that Indonesia-Papua New Guinea trade stood at $307.6 million in 2022. This was lower than the 2021 figures, which reached $322.5 million.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/indonesia-papua-new-guinea-discuss-potential-soe-investmen