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We want collaboration on nickel, not competition: Jokowi tells Albanese

Jakarta Globe - March 6, 2024

Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo recently told Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese that it would be best for Indonesia to collaborate with Australia on nickel rather than having the two countries compete with one another.

Albanese hosted Jokowi for some bilateral talks in Melbourne on Tuesday during the latter's visit for the ASEAN-Australia Summit. A presidential press statement revealed that Jokowi had talked of the bilateral partnership on electric vehicles (EVs).

In 2023, Indonesia and Australia signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on EV cooperation. As expected, Jokowi also brought up nickel – a mainstay ingredient for EV battery production which both countries are abundant in – during the talks.

"I hope we can implement this MoU [on EV cooperation] soon by forming a joint steering committee and coming up with a work plan," Jokowi said. "Regarding nickel, I encourage both countries to prioritize collaboration rather than competition."

EV has become a key part of Indonesia's economic diplomacy as Jakarta strives to be a leading battery producer. Indonesia is also seeking to boost EV adoption at home to slash carbon emissions.

According to the 2024 US Geological Survey report, Indonesia's nickel reserves amount to 55 million metric tons, making it the world's largest. Australia holds the world's second-largest nickel reserves, reaching approximately 24 million metric tons. Indonesia has banned exports of unprocessed nickel ores, reserving them for domestic processing.

In November 2023, Australia and Indonesia signed an MoU on establishing an EV collaboration mechanism. Both countries agreed to partner on mapping EV supply chains, joint scientific and research studies, and fostering new business-to-business links. The signing took place during Australian Industry Minister Ed Husic's visit to Jakarta.

Earlier this year, Australian nickel miners announced that they would be temporarily shutting down their operations after the price of the silvery white metal fell sharply. A recent report released by the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia attributed the plummeting global prices to Indonesia's production of cheap nickel. According to the report, Indonesia has a new technology that enables it to process nickel laterite at a significantly cheaper cost. This makes Australian nickel 28 percent more expensive to produce.

Albanese posted about his bilateral meeting with Jokowi on the social media platform X. The Australian politician, however, did not mention EV collaboration or nickel.

"Commitment to stability in our region and a shared vision for the future make our partnership with Indonesia a natural one. It was wonderful to host my friend President Joko Widodo in Melbourne. Australia looks forward to continued collaboration with our close neighbor," Albanese wrote on X on Wednesday.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/we-want-collaboration-on-nickel-not-competition-jokowi-tells-albanes