Positive attitude in East Javanese public service aims to facilitate business, says Vice-Governor

A ‘can-do’ attitude in the Indonesian bureaucracy is facilitating business growth and investment, East Java Vice-Governor Emil Dardak said.


“There is this new attitude within the bureaucracy to be more results-oriented,” the Vice-Governor told an Australia-Indonesia Business Council seminar in Melbourne.

“When I first entered the bureaucracy they would try to tell me why something could not be done.

“But now I think the attitude is about ‘what conditions need to be met so that we can do things’.

“It is about whether a glass is half full or half empty.”

Vice-Governor Dardak said this attitude meant overseas investors could be confident.

“There is no need to have second thoughts. Come in and start ‘touching base’ with Indonesian [business] counterparts,” he said.

“Particularly in East Java because it is the place to go for many investors.”

Earlier, Ausfine Foods International operations director and AIBC Victorian chair Garry Embleton talked of “wonderful opportunities” for trade and Indonesia being one of the “most stable democracies” in the region.

“It is pleasing to know that the [federal] government, together with more and more senior business leaders, are being encouraged and empowered to finally talk about the positives and wonderful opportunities that exist between Australia and Indonesia,” Mr Embleton said.

“For too long Australians flying north-bound have either terminated their journeys at Bali or simply flown over the top for business opportunities in other countries, whether it be due to the complexity of doing business with Indonesia or perceived security risks, Australian business engagement with Indonesia has been well below par.

“Recent developments, including IA-CEPA, the Indonesian Omnibus laws to improve labour market participation, and significant efforts to reduce red tape and effective measures against corruption have all contributed to an improved playing field.”

DFAT first assistant secretary for Southeast Asia, Ridwaan Jadwat, speaks to the AIBC seminar.

Opportunities in the regions

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade first assistant secretary for Southeast Asia, Ridwaan Jadwat, said business opportunities extended beyond Central Jakarta to the regions.

“The Prime Minister said he wanted to revitalise Australia’s trade and investment relationship with Indonesia.

“His visit included a very important stop. Anthony Albanese became the first Australian Prime Minister to visit Makassar,” Mr Jadwat said, noting the history of Makassan seafarers trading with the people of northern Australia.

Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre chief executive, Richard Simonaitis, talked of fluctuations in Indonesia – Australia trade. While Australia is currently blessed with large export grain volumes, for example, three years ago parts of Australia were in the grip of a severe drought and had to work on improving its service standards to sustain trade with Indonesia.

Mr Simonaitis talked of the Indonesian market being young and it was “not unusual to meet CEOs in their twenties” and that women were playing increasingly important business roles.

“There are a lot of very capable people in management who are women but you won’t always find them up front.

“My advice is it is worth your while to dig a bit and try and form an independent relationship with one of the high-ranking and very capable women who are in the organisation.”

Richard Simonaitis at an earlier event. Credit: Twitter

Market innovations

Mr Simonaitis said there were opportunities for exporters who thought creatively, for example there was little market for things like offal and animal hides in Australia but there was in Indonesia.

He also noted grain export potential, for example with feed barley which could compete with American corn.

“The potential is huge. If Indonesia was eating as much chicken as Malaysia, that market would grow from twenty million tonnes a year to 60 million.

“Indonesians grow up eating rice and as they get richer they might start to add noodles but noodles have to be affordable so that is a volume market for Australian wheat.”

Speaking via video call, Austrade’s Hannah Wade talked of the importance of “real, long-term relationships” with import partners or market partners.

“That is absolutely key, for a variety of reasons,” Ms Wade said.

“Often it is the importers who are up to date and really knowledgeable about changes and what the horizon might look like and what you might need so far as documentation.”

Picture of David Sexton

Digital Communications Coordinator
The Australia-Indonesia Centre

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