Expanding the Partnership
    Category: Issues & Ideas By : Justin Doebele Read : 1334 Date : Wednesday, January 13, 2016 - 08:11:52

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    Hong Kong’s profile in Indonesia is on the rise. In the first half of 2015, Hong Kong’s exports to Indonesia grew 13% to $1.4 billion. Conversely, there are 17 Indonesian companies with offices in Hong Kong, along with 158,000 Indonesians residing in Hong Kong and another roughly 200,000 Indonesians visiting Hong Kong, just in the first half of 2015. Hong Kong is also a major investor in Indonesia, ranking among the country’s top ten investors, with $657 million, in 2014. 

    “I see there’s a lot of potential for future cross-investment,” declares Vincent Lo, who is the chairman of the government’s top trade promotion body, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) (his day job is head of his family’s Shui On group). Speaking during a visit to Jakarta in September, Vincent noted that Hong Kong and Indonesia have many opportunities to develop a deeper relationship. “We want to do a lot more with Indonesia,” he says. 

    One obvious avenue is through trade. “We want to help take Indonesia into China and the rest of the world,” says Vincent, noting that Hong Kong is one of the world’s premier centers for financial services, especially trade services. Hong Kong has a history of being a garment and textile producer but Hong Kong entrepreneurs were able to transition into being the middlemen who coordinated offshore production in countries such as China and India for clients in the U.S. and Europe. 

    Vincent suggests that Hong Kong could now help Indonesia in the same way. One fruitful pairing, he says, is combining the fashion sense of Hong Kong designers and the financial expertise of Hong Kong traders, who can help Indonesian textile producers tap into overseas fashion markets. “We can be a very effective springboard,” he says, for Indonesian firms looking to go global or even just more regional. 

    One of the biggest steps towards building that relationship happened at the In Style event held in Jakarta in September. While the HKTDC has held similar events in other places, the event organized for Indonesia was the biggest and most elaborate held around the world, demonstrating the importance of the Hong Kong-Indonesia relationship to the world. 

    “This year’s promotion was the biggest ever,” notes Vincent, with close to 2,000 participants. “We are very excited about this. We can have a positive relationship going forward.” China’s announcement of its “One belt, one road” strategy has a special resonance with President Joko Widodo’s maritime strategy, according to Vincent. Combined with the initiative of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), China is now looking towards its Asian neighbours to find ways to help them to develop. Vincent notes that Asia accounts for a growing share of the global economy and is home to the three largest countries, by population: China, India and Indonesia. “With One Belt, One Road, Indonesia will play a very important part,” notes Vincent. “It is not just for the benefit of China or Indonesia, but for the benefit of the whole region and the whole world.”