Jakarta. Indonesia has called on countries in Asia and Africa to strengthen economic ties and fulfill the massive trade potential between the two continents.
Franky Sibarani, the chairman of Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), said on Tuesday that emerging economies, mostly in Asia and Africa, received more than $700 billion in foreign direct investment last year, or 56 percent of the total global investment, citing data from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) 2014 World Investment report.
He said this was a remarkable achievement, given that global investment flows declined 8 percent last year compared to the year before. He also quoted Financial Times data that showed total direct investment among Asia and Africa countries only reached 35 percent of total global investment.
“With this big potential, Asian and African countries can explore available opportunities and create beneficial cooperation,” Franky said at the Asian-African Business Summit in Jakarta, part of the 60th anniversary commemoration of the Asian-African Conference, taking place in Jakarta and Bandung this week.
“Therefore, let us all take advantage of this good momentum to strengthen the economic cooperation in investments between Asian and African countries.”
Some 600 local and foreign business leaders attended Tuesday’s summit, which was hosted by Indonesian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).
Investments in Indonesia from Asian and African countries between 2010 and 2014 amounted to $58.58 billion, according to BKPM figures, with Asian countries accounting for $55.56 billion.
The main investments from African countries came in the sectors of food, agriculture, tourism and construction, while investments from Asia included transportation, telecommunications, food, agriculture, metals, machinery and electronics. Most foreign investment in Indonesia was concentrated in Java.
Franky said Indonesia’s government was committed to creating a climate that was conducive to foreign investment. He said the government was exploring ways to get investors to participate in a host of development projects, particularly infrastructure and manufacturing.
“The BKPM is ready to facilitate Asia and Africa investors to realize their investments in Indonesia,” he said.
The government launched in January a “one-stop” platform meant to help investors acquire business permits, and is working on improvements in other sectors to boost investments.
Meanwhile, Kadin chairman Suryo Bambang Sulisto said Tuesday’s summit was also a chance for Indonesian businesses to gain greater knowledge about Africa’s largely untapped market potential.
He said the trade balance between Asia and Africa over the past 20 years had increased 100 times to $200 billion. “We expect it will reach $1 trillion by 2020,” Suryo said, adding that investors would look to do business with African countries that were “free of conflict.”
“There are some stable countries in Africa. Besides South Africa,” — rocked in recent days by violent xenophobic attacks — “other potential countries are Nigeria” — where the militant Islamic group Boko Haram has taken over entire towns and sent the military on the run — “and Egypt,” whose military in 2013 overthrew the democratically elected president in a coup.