Indonesia Opens its Doors to Qatar Investment amid Diplomatic Crisis

Photo by President Office

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – President Joko Widodo met with Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, at Bogor Palace on Wednesday (18/10), as leaders of both Islam-majority nations agreed to increase trade and business cooperation.

Widodo said that during bilateral meetings the two countries stressed the two areas that would justify mutually-beneficial cooperation, namely, infrastructure development and tourism.

“We concluded in the meeting that there are only two areas of interest we want to discuss: first, infrastructure development, and the second is tourism,” Widodo recounted at Bogor Palace, Wednesday (18/10).

The Indonesian private sector has been working very hard to promote stronger bilateral and cultural relations with Qatar, as well as expanding interests in areas of commerce and industry, while opening up opportunities to Qatar and its Middle East neighbours to be part of Indonesia’s industrial growth.

The visit was part of the Emir’s Southeast Asian tour, following the increasing isolation of the Middle East nation, as a result of a diplomatic crisis with its neighbors. Widodo said the government has specifically offered partnerships in infrastructure and tourism.

“Indonesia will continue to invite Qatar to invest here,” he said .

The Qatar diplomatic crisis began when several countries abruptly cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar in June 2017: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt. The downgrading of relations included ambassadors’ withdrawals, and imposition of trade and travel bans.

The crisis may provide opportunities for Indonesian companies, as Qatar seeks trade and business partnerships formerly filled by neighbors, according to Mohamad Bawazeer, Vice Chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Permanent Committee on the Middle East & OIC countries.

Trade between Indonesia and Qatar reached US$900 million in 2016. While Indonesia mainly imports oil from Qatar, the Southeast Asian country exported automotive products, textiles, footwear and furniture to the Gulf nation.

“We from the private sector want Qatar to not only rely on cooperation in the trade sector, but also to become a partner in investment. Our opportunities with Qatar are great, especially before 2022, when Qatar hosts the World Cup,” said Bawazeer.

Without specifying any value, Bawazeer said there are two local State-Owned Enterprises, (SOEs) PT Pelindo II (Persero) and PT Pelindo III (Persero), that have already concluded agreements with Qatar companies to develop seaport infrastructure in Indonesia.

Currently, Qatar has a large investment in one of Indonesia’s largest telecommunications companies, namely PT Indosat Ooredo Tbk. The company offers both prepaid and post-paid mobile phone services, fixed voice services, fixed wireless and fixed telephone services.

The Middle Eastern nation is also a presence in Indonesia’s banking sector, through ownership of PT Bank QNB Indonesia. Therefore, according to him it is only natural for these consumers that the Qatari Government, which has served Indonesia greatly with banking and telecommunications services, should also cooperate with modern housing for families.

“On behalf of Bosowa Group, we are honored to be one of the chosen partners in Indonesia, through our investment in Qatar National Bank or QNB Indonesia as it is now known. Moreover, investment in Indosat and the cement industry are other parts of the significant footprint from Qatar in the last 10 years,” said Erwin, who also a member of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Al-Sayed, a member of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce, said Qatar can participate in potential investment opportunities in Indonesia in the fields of geothermal and aviation, such as the West Java International Airport (BIJB) and its supporting facilities, like power plants, gas backbone pipelines, gas pipeline networks in BIJB and an aero-city.

There are also investment opportunities, such as the Metropolitan Cirebon Raya Clean Water Supply System and the Legok Nangka Solid Waste Treatment and Disposal project, al-Sayed mentioned.

“Indonesia’s confidence in Middle East countries, including Qatar, is very high. Qatar can easily involve itself in these projects, whether in supply systems or infrastructure, because the country already has extensive experience in these areas, considering on-going projects being implemented,” he said.

Writing by Elisa Valenta, Email: elisa.valenta@theinsiderstories.com