Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

'NZ lagging' says Indonesian media

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key, right, talks with Indonesian Minister of Trade Gita Wiryawan. Photo / AP
New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key, right, talks with Indonesian Minister of Trade Gita Wiryawan. Photo / AP

Prime Minister John Key and his trade delegation's message that New Zealand wants to do more business in the South East Asian nation were front page news of the Jakarta Post yesterday.

But further back in the capital's largest English language newspaper, visits by foreign leaders and their entourages of business people were receiving more sceptical treatment.

The front page story reported Mr Key's view that Indonesia's burgeoning economy and growing middle class made the country an attractive destination for New Zealand investment and exports. But on page 12 under a headline saying Indonesia "gains little from visiting foreign dignitaries", the Post's Rabby Pramudatama reported that New Zealand "realized it was lagging behind others in tapping the honey pot of Southeast Asia's largest economy".

That story highlighted British Prime Minister David Cameron's visit to Indonesia accompanied by an aerospace and defence industry delegation a few days earlier during which state owned airline Garuda signed a US$2.4 billion aircraft deal with Anglo French company Airbus.

The story quoted local academics who said the deals inked during recent visits by foreign leaders favoured overseas companies and Indonesia's leaders appeared more concerned about burnishing the country's reputation than promoting national interests.
But while that article noted growth in foreign investment in Indonesia remained sluggish, the front page story covered Fonterra's announcement it would sink $20 million into a new processing and packaging plant.

During his visit this week, Mr Key repeatedly emphasised that New Zealand businesses would work with Indonesian partners on projects that benefited both parties.
Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings said Fonterra intended this year to focus on working with local farmers using New Zealand dairy expertise to develop a fresh milk business.

"We have really laboured the point that we're not trying put Indonesian farmers out of business," Mr Key told reporters last night ahead of a state dinner which was the last engagement of his visit.

"What we are trying to do is of course expand our export opportunities here but the growth in this market like India and Korea and others is so exponential we can't possibly fulfill all of that demand and so working alongside them as partners is important."

In the Post's business section yesterday Garuda's plan to re-establish a Jakarta Auckland service were fleshed out in more detail than the announcement of the airline's "memorandum of understanding" with Auckland airport supplied to New Zealand media.

While Auckland Airport said the service would begin "as soon as market conditions and aircraft availability allow", Garuda's president director Emirsyah Satah told the Post the seven times a week service would begin early next year and the airline hoped for passenger loads to average 78 per cent.

Mr Key said that service and Air New Zealand's service to Bali were important in building the relationship between the two countries.

He said the visit which included meetings with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Boediono, had been successful.

"One thing in this sort of culture, and its true right across Asia and frankly right across the world, at a leader to leader level you really can cut through some of those difficult issues and make progress."

Mr Key and his business delegation fly to Singapore this morning where Mr Key will speak at a business luncheon before meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

- NZ Herald

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