Next week we are having a meeting with the Ambassador of Belgium ..."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesia and Belgium have agreed to enhance cooperation in different fields following an economic mission to Indonesia, led by Princess Astrid.

On Tuesday, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) received Princes Astrid and some 300 business delegates from Belgium, and both sides agreed to improve cooperation in the fields of investment, clean technology, economy, and maritime.

Indonesias Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli remarked on Wednesday that the perception of several countries regarding the condition of the Indonesian economy has started to improve.

"International perception towards Indonesia has begun improving, and currently, more countries want to invest in Indonesia," Ramli remarked during the Indonesia-Belgium Maritime Conference here on Wednesday.

The maritime affairs minister noted that if Belgium wants to invest in several infrastructure projects in Indonesia, it will face competition from other countries, including China, which often offers a lower cost burden.

However, Ramli pointed out that developed countries such as Belgium would also have an advantage in the field of innovation and management such as in the maritime sector.

"Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium Didier Reynders has informed me that they have prepared several financing plans, and some of them are very concrete," Ramli noted.

The minister said most of the financing plans or investment of Belgium in Indonesia is in the maritime field, such as for the development of ports and shipping.

However, Ramli could not provide an exact estimate of the total amount to be invested by Belgium in Indonesia as the matter was still in the negotiation stage.

During the Indonesia-Belgium Maritime Conference, the speakers from the two countries discussed various topics related to the maritime field, including port management, logistics and warehousing, waterways, and protection of the bays.

Belgium is known to have several companies engaged in maritime construction, particularly in the field of reclamation and protection of the bays, hydraulic and maritime structures, as well as firms engaged in the field of maritime consultancy.

National Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) Head Franky Sibarani sated here on Tuesday that the two countries have agreed to improve cooperation in investment.

"Next week we are having a meeting with the Ambassador of Belgium to follow up on investors interests about information related to their businesses in the renewable energy sector, including wind power," Sibarani said.

President Joko Widodo met with the Delegation of the Kingdom of Belgium, which was led by Princess Astrid, at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday morning.

Both sides agreed to increase cooperation in trade and investment.

According to Sibarani, the meeting was important for Indonesia, as the government is currently working to increase foreign investment in the country.

He remarked that BKPM will work to expand foreign investment through the enacting of a number of regulations in Indonesia.

Sibarani said wind power plant technology from Belgium has advantages over other countries, and is widely used in European countries.

In addition, Indonesia and Belgium are trying to expand cooperation in the field of clean technology.

In the course of a keynote speech at the Belgium-Indonesia Cleantech Summit here on Tuesday, Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar highlighted three main focuses of Indonesian government in clean technology, which were energy, waste, and ecotourism.

"Indonesian government has embarked on mix-energy use policy, with at least 23 percent coming from new and renewable energy by 2025," she stated.

Bio-energy, biomass, and biodiesel were among renewable energy resources developed by the Indonesian government.

To achieve the objective of fulfilling national energy demand, Indonesia was also focusing on waste utilization as one of the renewable energy sources, both through geothermal-based or pyrolysis to produce methane gas.

"The process of waste to energy conversion has certain benefits, such as less pollution, reduced fossil fuel consumption, and reduced green house gas emissions," Minister Siti said.

However, she said, Indonesia faces a particular challenge as it generates a large amount of waste --- 175 thousand metric tons per day or 64 million metric tons per year.

This waste comprises organic waste (60 percent), plastic (15 percent), paper (10 percent), metal and leather (15 percent).

"As much as 96 percent of this waste goes to the land unprocessed, without even being decomposed," she said.

In response to this, Flemish Minister for Work, Economy, Innovation and Sports, Philippe Muyters, said Belgium was one of the global leaders in clean technology and known for its expertise in waste management and renewable energy solutions.

"We have one of the highest recycling rates in the world with more than 70 percent of the waste being collected separately in order to be reused, recycled, or composted," he explained.

During the meeting between President Joko Widodo and Princess Astrid of Belgium here on Tuesday, the two countries agreed to intensify economic cooperation.

Princess Astrid is in Indonesia to lead a 300-strong Belgian business delegation from March 12 to 19. The business delegates are representing 127 companies.

The companies are engaged in the fields of construction, infrastructure, energy, clean technology, communication and information technology, food and beverage, financial services, transportation, logistics, marketing, and education.

Speaking to the press after accompanying President Jokowi at the meeting, Foreign Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi stated that Belgium is Indonesias key partner in terms of trade and investment.

"For instance, in 2015, Indonesia-Belgium bilateral trade reached US$1.67 billion, while (Belgian) investment (in Indonesia) reached more than US$7 million," she noted.

Until now, some two thousand Belgian companies have been operating in Indonesia, she remarked.

At the meeting, President Jokowi briefed the Belgian business delegation on the governments efforts to make the economy more open and competitive.

Reporter: Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Priyambodo RH
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