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Visit of the Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs to South Korea

The Co-ordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Indonesia, Airlangga Hartarto, was on an official visit to South Korea on May 20, 2024. He met with several South Korean government officials and industrialists to deepen the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

Proposal for Collaboration

During his visit, Minister Airlangga met the South Korean Minister of Trade, Industry, and Energy (MOTIE) Ahn Duk Geun in Seoul on May 22. They discussed the possibility of collaboration between the two countries regarding industry, trade, and the energy transition. Minister Airlangga pointed out the ongoing collaboration projects between South Korea and Indonesia. It includes the construction of the Krakatau Steel-Posco steel cluster and expanding the Lotte petrochemical plant. South Korea has also expressed keen interest in developing nuclear power plants through the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI). The KAERI is renowned for its small modular reactor (SMR) technology, which produces a lower carbon footprint than a conventional reactor. Small-scale modular nuclear reactors have recently helped provide electricity in remote or isolated areas.

Electric Vehicles

Minister Airlangga emphasised the importance of electric vehicles (EVs) and noted that the Indonesian government is formulating an EV roadmap and providing various incentives to improve the country’s EV ecosystem. In a post on X, he said, “The Indonesian government is also pushing for several agreements that were made at the previous Joint Committee Meeting on Economic Cooperation (JCEC) which were supported by Hyundai such as Hyundai Motor’s investment in Indonesian electric vehicles, including finished car factories, combined battery cell factories, battery pack factories, and others.”

Meeting with Industrialists

During his visit, Minister Airlangga met with several business leaders of South Korea. He discussed the automotive, semiconductor, electronics, and hydrogen fuel development sectors. He met with the CEO of LG CNS, Shingyoon Hyun. He appreciated their Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Sinar Mas Group to jointly establish a data centre management and information and communication technology (ICT) by the end of 2024. He also met with the CEO of Hyundai. Minister Airlangga remarked: “Continuing the meeting with the CEO of Hyundai Motor Group Mr. Euisun Chung, on this occasion he appreciated Hyundai’s efforts which are actively involved in various hydrogen projects globally, starting from Indonesia with Waste-to-Hydrogen, to utilizing local community waste.”

Honourary Doctorate

The Gyeongsang National University (GNU), South Korea, conferred an honourary doctorate on Minister Airlangga in appreciation of his contribution to the strategic partnership between Indonesia and South Korea. The Minister’s efforts at regularly meeting with South Korean businessmen and the South Korean government to advance the economy, investment, trade, and education are well known. The President of GNU, Kwon Soon-Ki, conferred the prestigious award on the Minister, following which the latter delivered a speech focusing on the Golden Indonesia Vision 2045. Minister Airlangga hoped that the honourary doctorate would bring global recognition to Indonesia’s economic development and encourage GNU alumni to work towards further building bilateral relations.

Indonesia and South Korea established bilateral relations nearly fifty years ago. South Korea is the 7th largest investor in Indonesia. The total bilateral trade value between the countries was USD 20.8 billion in 2023. The close relationship between South Korea and Indonesia regarding economy, investment, and trade will get a significant boost with such high-level meetings and acknowledgment of contributions.