Indonesia gov't urges local exporters to seriously work on the ASEAN market
By Linda Yulismanin,The Jarkata Post/Asia News NetworkJAKARTA -- The government has called on local business people to seriously capitalize on markets in neighboring Southeast Asian countries by boosting exports ahead of the creation of a single market by the end of 2015.
September 23, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said on recently that there were currently enormous untapped business opportunities provided by the nine ASEAN countries, whose economies continued to expand quite robustly even in the current global slowdown.
“The prospect of economic growth (in these countries) is bright, thereby, it will good for us to increase trade within ASEAN,” Gita told reporters after opening a seminar on the ASEAN community.
Gita further encouraged exporters to sell more value-added products to take advantage of regional trade despite the fact that local products might compete with those made by its Southeast Asian peers, considering the similarities in the current development phase of the manufacturing industry.
“I still see some complementarities between our products and theirs. In some sectors, such as the automotive industry, we are on the way to becoming a regional production base in addition to Thailand. The entire ASEAN demand will not likely be met by a single country,” Gita said.
From January to July this year Indonesian non-oil and gas exports within ASEAN totaled US$18.09 billion, up moderately by 0.28 percent from last year, according to Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data.
Darmawan Junaidi, the senior vice president of the treasury group at Bank Mandiri Indonesia's largest bank by assets said that local banks were actually ready to compete in the regional market, but needed supportive policies from the government and monetary authorities.
“What we really need is the application of the reciprocity principle that allows our local banks to expand to other ASEAN member states,” Darmawan told The Jakarta Post.
“We never restrict foreign banks from operating in Indonesia, but we also expect equal treatment when we enter other countries,” he added.
Indonesia's loose banking policy has enabled foreign lenders to expand significantly in the past few years. In 2006, foreign banks, including those from ASEAN, controlled only 4 percent of total assets, but they managed to hold 45 percent of overall assets in the country by 2010.
In contrast, Indonesian lenders, such as Bank Mandiri, Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) and Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI) have been unable to strengthen their foothold in Singapore, of which its domestic banks included those benefiting from the easing of regulations in the Indonesian banking industry.
FifyManan, the president and chief executive officer at furniture exporting firm Formcase, which has succeeded in selling its products overseas, said that entry into the Southeast Asian market could be an effective strategy to penetrate bigger markets as it served as a testing ground for the firm's products.
“Once we succeed in ASEAN, we can further explore other markets. If our products are accepted in ASEAN, we can then advance in Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe and the United States,” she said during the seminar.