Thursday, February 28, 2013

South Korea and Indonesia Could Be Strategic Partners in Asian Growth

South Korean president Park Geun-Hye, right, talks with Boediono, Vice President of Indonesia, left, during their meeting at the presidential house in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday. Park Geun-Hye, the daughter of former president Park Chung-Hee is the first female president of South Korea. (EPA Photo/Chung Sung-Jun)
South Korea could become Indonesia’s closest economic and political partner as the engine of global economic growth shifts to Asia, analysts say.

As the two countries celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year, experts are upbeat about the future.
“Under the new president, these relations will continue to flourish,” said Bantarto Bandoro, an international relations expert at Indonesian Defense University. 

“Indonesia can learn from South Korea in its preparation to become a developed country, while South Korea needs Indonesia’s vast market and natural resource potential,” he added.

“South Korea and Indonesia fit each other. I think there are no countries in the region that perfectly match each other more than these two countries.”

At the same time, China and the United States are vying for influence in the region.

Indonesian Vice President Boediono this week attended the inauguration of Park Geun-hye — the first female president of South Korea.

Bantarto said that unlike relations with China or Japan, Indonesia harbored no past grudge with South Korea.

China, for instance, had troubled relations with Indonesia during the New Order era after the Suharto regime accused Beijing of being behind the failed 1965 communist coup. 

Japan at one time occupied Indonesia.

“So, South Korea can speak freely to Indonesia, for instance to help them restrain North Korea, while Indonesia can ask South Korea to invest more and transfer technology to Indonesia,” Bantarto said.

Aleksius Jemadu, dean of Pelita Harapan University’s School of Social and Political Sciences, agreed that relations between Indonesia and South Korea could only intensify regardless of leadership changes. 

He said that as Southeast Asia’s largest economy continued to grow, its influence in the international arena would naturally increase.
Indonesia is South Korea’s eighth-largest trading partner, with bilateral trade worth $30 billion in 2011, up from $20 billion in 2010.
Indonesia is also the biggest Southeast Asian buyer of South Korean military equipment. 

The government in 2011 awarded two contracts to South Korea, one of them to purchase submarines and the other to purchase KAI T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jets.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and former South Korea President Lee Myung-bak vowed to expand trade to 
$50 billion by 2015 and $100 billion by 2020.

After a 90-minute meeting with Park on Tuesday in Seoul, Boediono said Indonesia and South Korea would achieve a new level in their bilateral relations after four decades of diplomatic ties.

“Both countries can complement one another,” Boediono said. 

“They have what we need and we have what they need,” he added, as quoted by Antara news agency.

Before meeting with Park, Boediono held discussions with several of South Korea’s biggest business leaders, including LG International chief executive Ha Young-bong and Cho Hwan-eik, president and chief executive of Korea Electric Power.-The Jakarta Globe (February 28, 2013)

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