Diana Mariska, Jakarta – The United Kingdom will be a more open and welcoming country for Indonesia post-Brexit, the UK ambassador to Indonesia and Timor Leste Owen Jenkins said on Friday, with plans in place to attract more Indonesian students to study there and the possibility of a future cooperation in palm oil, Indonesia's main export commodity currently taking a lot of flak from the European Union.
The UK will officially leave the European Union (EU) on Jan. 31 at 11 p.m. UK time, a historical moment for the country that has been dubbed as Brexit.
After leaving the EU, Ambassador Jenkins assured the UK will be a more welcoming place and that foreigners, including Indonesians, living in the country should not expect too many changes.
The UK has started making adjustments to offer more opportunities to study and work in the country, with Jenkins saying it simply wants more people to come, particularly to study.
"Foreign students in the UK who start their courses in 2020 will now be allowed to live and work in the UK for two years after they graduate, something that was not possible before," Jenkins said in Jakarta.
"[The government is] committed to getting rid of the cap on the exceptional talent visa," Jenkins said, adding that he hoped the change would persuade more talented people in various fields to come and "make their life" in the UK.
"The UK is home to four of the top 10 universities in the world. I hope Indonesian students will take advantage of our world-class universities," Jenkins said.
After Brexit, Jenkins said there will be no change in legal arrangements for living and visiting the UK. This also applies to Indonesian citizens who are already there.
"There won't be any dramatic change in this area because the UK was never part of the Schengen arrangements – [the diplomatic relationship] between the UK and foreign countries has always been bilateral. [If] Indonesians in the UK wanted to travel to another European country, they'd need a Schengen visa just as they did before," Jenkins said.
The ambassador said the UK's trade relationship with Indonesia will stay the same as it has always been since it is regulated under bilateral agreements.
Jenkins said timber will continue to become one of Indonesia's biggest exports to the UK. He also assured that the terms of trade for Indonesian exporters and British importers will remain the same.
The UK, however, will continue to follow EU regulations during the post-Brexit transition period that will last for 11 months. The part of the regulations that will continue includes the one on biofuel.
Jenkins said the use of palm oil in biofuels was the main cause of tension in the relationship between Indonesia and the EU. He expressed optimism about the possibility of a mutually rewarding cooperation in the palm oil industry between Indonesia and the UK after Brexit.
"The UK recognizes the importance of the palm oil industry to the Indonesian economy, including the 20 million jobs it produces and the social values that it brings to communities. We already have terrific cooperation in ensuring the sustainability of Indonesian palm oil since it is clear the demand is moving toward that direction," Jenkins said.