Narrowing geographical distances by promoting cultural ties!
Zubair Qureshi/Fahd Malik Exclusive Interview
Ambassador of Indonesia Adam M Tugio has been in Pakistan for hardly one-and-a-half years (joined the mission in November 2020).
Despite the fact Pakistan was in the grip of Covid-19 and there was little activity to do, Ambassador Tugio did not sit idle rather he asked his team to work on exploring new avenues to facilitate business transactions and finding cultural similarities between the two countries in form of pictorial coffee-table book that could give the Pakistani and the Indonesian readers information about of ‘striking resemblance’ between Indonesia and Pakistan.
In Ambassador’s own words, both the nations have served as cradle of the great Buddhist and Hindu civilizations and then gradually came under the influence of Islam.
The 180-page book titled “Cultural Beauty & Natures’ Wonders: Captivating Images of Indonesia-Pakistan Similarities” is indeed a work of intense research and in the Ambassador’s own words “traces back the connection and outlines an insight on the convergence of the Indonesian and Pakistani societies through the chronicles of ancient history and contemporary references.
” One can see these striking similarities not only in food and fashion but in nature and culture as well.
For example we have the world’s second highest K-2 mountain peak in Pakistan while in Indonesia they have Puncak Jaya Wijaya, the highest mountain peak in Indonesia’s Papua Island.
Similarly, in mosques and temples, madrasah (religious seminaries) for boys and girls and Markets, food, fashion, architecture, sports, traditional arts, cuisines and even in the modern ways of living and transportation, clothing and craft, Indonesia keen to further strengthen trade the book has plenty of images making the reader willingly believe that both the nations have the same or similar roots despite the fact they are at a distance of thousands of miles.
During an exclusive interview with Pakistan Observer team, Ambassador Tugio said his mission was to narrow geographical distances by promoting bilateral trade and culture link between the two brotherly nations.
Ambassador Tugio spoke at length on challenges to increase pace of trade and tourism between Pakistan and Indonesia.
He also shared his plan for the future cooperation between the two countries and hoped if everything went as per the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan’s share of trade with ASEAN as well as Indonesia would increase manifold and in return the Indonesian and the ASEAN companies would also invest in the country.
Following is an edited and abridged text of detailed interview:
Q: How do you see the role of your embassy?
A: First and the foremost, my embassy’s role is to strengthen bilateral cooperation between our two brotherly countries on every aspects.
We also facilitate business communities of the two countries in carrying out smooth bilateral trade and encourage them to take maximum advantage of the huge potential of the combined market of the two countries and beyond, noting that our respective country can serve as hub to the adjacent regions.
In this regard, we are working together with Chamber of Commerces, business associations and Pakistan Embassy in Jakarta which is taking commendable steps to this end.
Q: What is the real strength of Indonesia that despite over 300 ethnic groups and communities living there, Indonesia stands united?
A: There are a number of factors that contribute to unifying diverse communities of Indonesia into one nation.
The first is our language (Bahasa) which serves as lingua franca in the multilingual Indonesian archipelago for centuries.
Bahasa was originally spoken by small ethnic group from Sumatera island and widely used for communication of the entire archipelago even before our independence.
The second factor is our state’s philosophy of Pancasila or five principles that makes us one single nation.
They are Belief in one God, Just and Civilized Humanity, Unity of Indonesia, Democracy and Social Justice.
Our founding fathers had a vision that Indonesia being a home to multi-ethnic society and since all of them contributed to the nation-building and played their role in the National Revolution, the country could progress only when all its communities, big and small, enjoy equal opportunities.
Q: How did Indonesia’s economic miracle take place?
A: I am thankful that you mentioned and recognized Indonesia’s unprecedented economic growth.
What contributed to the socio economic development in the country is strong economic policy from the government.
This manifests in the form of policies that promote economic growth such as good macroeconomic, building infrastructures and providing incentives to attract FDI and openness to join global trade.
Simultaneously, by imposing discipline to implement prudent economic fiscal and proactive policy interventions by government in order to ensure economic stability.
Q: Indonesia is called ‘pioneer of commercial diplomacy’ in Southeast Asia.Would you please explain?
A: Well, I must say we are not the only country that gives priority to trade and commercial transactions in its diplomacy.
In fact, Commercial Diplomacy now becomes more relevant as we are living in a shrinking world and increasing trade will bring more prosperity to the globe and world community will eventually gets benefit from globalisation.
To this end, we are exploring market of the host countries for Indonesian products through various activities such as conducting market intelligence, expanding networking, and facilitation for trade expo, trade investment, facilitation settlement for disputes as well.
Q: What is the current GDP of Indonesia and per capita income?
A: In 2019, Indonesia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was US$ 1,114 billion while GDP per capita was $4174,9, in 2020, its GDP was $ 1.058 billion while per capita income was $ 3869.58.In 2021, Indonesia’s GDP was $1,184 billion while per capita was $ 4349,5.
The Indonesian economy was successful in the fourth quarter of 2021 being able to grow above 5 percent.This makes the GDP throughout 2021 to grow positively.
Q: What is the volume of bilateral trade?
A: We witness positive trajectory of our commercial transactions since the adoption of PTA in 2013.
Last year, bilateral trade between our two countries reached $ 3.9 billion where Indonesia enjoys surplus.
We are constantly working to narrow this gap among other by diversification of traded goods.
Q: What is the trade potential of ASEAN and Indonesia and which benefits can Pakistani investors and business community pick from their markets?
A: With a combined population of close to 623 million people and a GDP of around $2.5 trillion, ASEAN is a significant market for Pakistani goods.
Indonesia’s GDP is worth a trillion dollars, and ASEAN is swiftly establishing itself as the next global economic hub.
Q: As you know absence of direct flights between the two countries is the main hindrance in promoting trade and tourism.
Have you taken up the issue with authorities in both the sides and is there any progress/hope?
A: We are aware of this major hindrance in enhanced trade and tourism links between the two countries.
Both the Pakistani and the Indonesian authorities are working on it and hopefully the most anticipated direct link between the two countries can be materialised in the near future.
Indonesian airline has got already permits to serve this route from relevant authorities in Pakistan few years back but the pandemic hit the globe.
Q: What are the imports from Pakistan and which are the commodities Indonesia exports to Pakistan?
A: Indonesia exports Palm oil, Coal Briquettes, Cars, Rubber, Cloves, Brooms, Artificial Staple Fibers, Cocoa powder, Vehicle parts, Pesticides to Pakistan while it imports semi-finished Iron, Rice, Wheat, Citrus, Pure cotton, Frozen fish, Tobacco, Medical instruments, Animal hides, Sports Equipment from Pakistan.
Q: In over a year since you joined as Ambassador of Indonesia, which areas of diplomacy have you initiated with Pakistan or plan to initiate?
A: As I have told you earlier, we are working on a number of projects and my priority is promote commercial ties that mutually beneficial with Pakistan.
We are encouraging Pakistani business community, traders, and economic experts to ‘Look Indonesia Beyond Indonesia”.
In view of major shift in conventional business and trade, we are now also focusing on online trade and using modern tools and mediums to enhance bilateral trade.
Another priority is strengthening cultural link by encouraging Pakistani student to study in Indonesia’s best universities and to participate in scholarships programs provided by the Indonesian Government.
Q: How do you find Pakistan’s response to Covid-19 challenge and what is the situation in your country?
A: Pakistan has dealt with Covid-19 quite effectively and the world recognizes the country’s success against the pandemic.
We must commend the Pakistani government’s strategy of ‘smart lockdown’ to prevent the virus spread.
The way Pakistan’s economy is recovering from the coronavirus is quite impressive and worth-following.Indonesian economy too after initial slump, is in a recovery phase now.
Q: Please share your personal experience about Pakistan, its culture and people.
A: Pakistan is blessed with beautiful landscapes and nature, a land of treasure for ancient civilisation for those who love history.
And its people are very friendly, and open-hearted.
I have found many similarities in the countries’ cultures, cuisine and ways of living, therefore, I never felt away from home during my assignments in this lovely country.