SBY to focus on economy with Germany’s Merkel

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Just one day after discussing bilateral economic ties with Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Monday, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is slated to raise the same subject with the leader of the European Union’s largest economy, German Chancelor Angela Merkel.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, walks with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa upon arriving at Halim Perdanakusuma airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Tuesday. (Pictured by: AP/Tatan Syuflana)

“With the German chancellor, we aim to boost cooperation in five main sectors, namely trade and investment, technology, education, healthcare and science and research,” Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa said on Monday.

Last week, the minister disclosed the trade volume between the two countries last year stood at US$6.69 billion. The target is to reach at least $12 billion in 2015.

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“Hence, we will be asking Germany to invest in Indonesia more aggressively,” Hatta said.

Merkel’s three-day visit is a part of the 60th commemoration of bilateral ties between the two countries.
The revelation of her visit came on the heels of the government’s announcement that it would procure up to 100 refurbished Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks (MBT) worth $280 million from Germany, ruling out a previous plan to buy similar tanks from the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, Czech President Vaclav Klaus disclosed his visit to Indonesia was part of the efforts to help the country survive the impact of the eurozone crisis given Indonesia’s robust and impressive economic growth.

Klaus indicated that the current economic crisis in the continent has discouraged his country from entering the single currency zone.

“We have no motivation to jump into the eurozone, which is a problematic structure. Nevertheless, the impact of the eurozone crisis to the Czech economy is quite visible,” Klaus told a joint press conference with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Merdeka Palace.

The Czech politician said he had seen Indonesia as a potential market for Czech exporters who had suffered from a significant plunge in the number of European buyers.

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“Our exports go to Western Europe, which means if there is trouble there, it influences our economy very much. Hence, to avoid the negative impact of the eurozone crisis, I say, ‘Go to Indonesia and do business here!’” Klaus said.

With 1.7 percent economic growth, the Czech Republic appears to be one of the strongest economies among European Union (EU) members. “We are quite happy that the Czech economy growth is more than the EU average. But for Indonesia, it would be a disaster to have 1.7% economic growth,” Klaus said.

Klaus’ delegation included his wife Livia Klausova, Czech environment minister and 17 top businessmen. They were welcomed by Yudhoyono, First Lady Ani Yudhoyono and a number of Cabinet members in a state ceremony at the palace.

Yudhoyono said he welcomed efforts to boost trade and investment ties between the two countries. “I still see available space to increase trade and investment. I am really sure that we can even create new opportunities to boost interactivity between the private sectors in both countries,” he said.

Total Indonesia-Czech trade volume in 2011 reached US$163.72 million, with a deficit of $24.88 million on the Indonesian side. In the “2007-2011 period, trade volumes showed positive trends with an average annual increase of 6.39 percent of, according to data from the Trade Ministry (Bagus BT Saragih, The Jakarta Post) .

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