Australia is committed to building trade and investment partnership with Indonesia ..."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, as part of her busy schedule, visited Jakarta, Makassar in South Sulawesi Province, and Bali during a working visit on March 20-23, 2016.

Bishop started her agenda by holding meetings with her Indonesian counterpart Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi and Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla in Jakarta to discuss efforts to boost bilateral, political, trade, and investment cooperation.

Foreign Minister Bishop then formally inaugurated Australias newly constructed embassy in the Patra Kuningan area, South Jakarta, which includes a five-storey Chancery, accommodation for some Embassy staff, and a recreation and medical center covering an area of more than 50 thousand square meters.

"The state-of-the-art building and joint project between Australian and Indonesian companies symbolizes our commitment to strong and enduring ties with Indonesia. The new embassy facility will accommodate Australias increased presence in Indonesia and will provide a secure working environment for our personnel," she stated.

The new embassy complex was built by Indonesian company Total Bangun Persada in partnership with Leighton (Asia) and continues to make a positive contribution to the local economy.

Some 2.5 thousand local workers were employed at the site during the construction process. The Australian government is also upgrading infrastructure in the embassys neighborhood.

"The embassy showcases the best in Australian innovative design and cutting-edge technology to make the most out of Indonesias environment while minimizing the impact on local water and energy sources," Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Paul Grigson noted.

The new embassy is the largest ever to be constructed by an Australian government in the world and reflects the depth of the relationship between Australia and Indonesia, he remarked.

The embassy complex uses low-resource technologies such as rainwater harvesting and solar water heating systems.

Extensive landscaping was carried out during construction. Four mature Banyan trees were also relocated. This relocation is the biggest of its kind to be ever undertaken and has been recognized by the Indonesian Guinness Book of Records. The effort also won a Museum Rekor Indonesia Award.

The distinctive colors chosen for the Chancery are designed to represent Australias wealth in minerals and metals such as copper, zinc, brass, steel, and aluminum.

"The new Australian Embassy complex is not only a tribute to the countrys creative design and innovation but is also a tangible example of a very successful Australian-Indonesian construction partnership," Grigson emphasized.

Bishop expressed hope that more number of Indonesian tourists would visit her country.

"Every year, a million Australians visit Indonesia. We wish to push for an increase in the number of Indonesian tourists visiting Australia," Bishop stated here on Monday after inaugurating the new Australian embassy.

She said Australia applies a universal visa system across the world. Currently, Australian tourists do not require a visa to visit Indonesia.

From January to November 2015, the number of Australian visitors to Bali was the highest, reaching 876,748 out of the total of 3,631,195 foreign tourists arriving on the island.

Australia is a potential market for Bali, or even Indonesia as a whole, largely due to its proximity. It has always been one of the three biggest sources of tourists to Bali.

On March 22, Bishop opened the new Australian Consulate General in Makassar, Australias third diplomatic post in Indonesia.

"Australia is committed to building trade and investment partnership with Indonesia and expanding our people-to-people contacts. The Consulate General will deepen our business, education, and cultural links with the provinces of eastern Indonesia," the minister noted.

On the occasion, Bishop announced the appointment of Richard Mathews as Australias first Consul General in Makassar, which is Indonesias fifth-largest city and a key commercial hub for Australians doing business in eastern Indonesia.

Eastern Indonesia is an increasingly popular destination for Australian trade and investment, particularly in the resources, agribusiness, and food processing sectors.

Mathews is a career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was most recently the director of the Nuclear Policy Section. He had earlier served overseas as deputy representative in the Australian Commerce and Industry Office, Taipei; deputy head of Mission in Athens; and as second secretary in Bandar Seri Begawan.

In Canberra, Mathews has worked in the India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Europe sections.

He has also worked as director at the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies; Indonesia director in the Northern Territory Government; and as a visiting fellow and Indonesia Merdeka fellow at the ANU.

Mathews claimed that the new diplomatic facility will help to reinforce and strengthen trade and investment ties with eastern Indonesia.

"I want to build a network of business, educational facilities, and Australian alumni in eastern Indonesia," Mathews emphasized.

He promised to promote sound relations between the two sides.

Meanwhile, South Sulawesi Deputy Governor Agus Arifin Numang stated that the consulate general would help strengthen trade relations between his administration and Australia.

"We hope that trade relations with Australia would be improved," he noted.

Earlier, Vice President Kalla had expressed hope to lure more Australian investments in Makassar.

"Australia is relatively closer to the eastern part of Indonesia," the vice president pointed out.

Grigson listed trade, education, and culture as the three priority sectors that the consulate general in Makassar would pursue.

Reporter: Fardah
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2016