"Every region should focus on its superior product. Do not take up everything, so that in future, we can support each other. We are so accustomed to following or copying, (such as when) rubber was on the rise, everyone grew rubber and (when) palm was on the rise, everyone grew palm. When the entire palm oil sector collapsed, everything also collapsed. All rubber prices dropped, and everything also dropped. Do not be like that," the head of state noted at the Bogor Presidential Palace on Wednesday.
Jokowi delivered the statement at the opening of the All-Indonesian District Government Association (Apkasi) Autonomy Expo in 2021, with attendees also comprising Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, as well as heads of districts that attended either in person or virtually.
"I remind all regions that they need to focus on their superior products because of the uncertainty I mentioned. Do not be like: 'Whoa, that region is growing rubber! Why is their economy so good?' Then, we tell our people to plant rubber. When it is good, of course it is good. However, when (the price) dropped, be careful, (everyone would take the tumble). It will be dangerous," he emphasized.
The president believes that such focus or specialization in producing superior products is beneficial, so that the regions can support and complement one another in the national value chain.
"The Autonomy Expo, organized by Apkasi, is an opportunity to get to know one another and work together to strengthen inter-regional trade cooperation as well as to strengthen our exports to other countries, including the expansion of new export markets," Jokowi elaborated.
However, President Jokowi reminded the regions to not overlook the domestic market.
"The potential is huge, as our population reaches 270 million, and the middle class is growing very rapidly. This should be an opportunity to strengthen the domestic industry," the head of state noted.
Jokowi expects Indonesia's domestic market to not be taken over by products from other countries.
"It is necessary to strengthen trade between regions, districts, provinces, and islands. This is very important to expedite it," he affirmed.
Despite concurring on the need to push trade, tourism, and investment, the president reminded that health continued to be the top priority presently.
"The economy needs to be pushed while staying alert or aware of health issues, protocol discipline, and also vaccinations that must be expedited as soon as possible," Jokowi stated.
The importance increases even more now, with face-to-face learning kicking off at schools. The regional leaders are expected to continue to control the spread of the virus among members of the public.
"Especially now, it is related to face-to-face learning at schools. Check the schools' readiness in implementing health protocols, because managing elementary school children is not easy, and 1-2 have started to be exposed again," President Jokowi stated.
The president also reminded regional leaders to be more cautious, given the fact that several countries were experiencing a spike in the number of positive COVID-19 cases due to the reopening of schools.
"We do not want that to occur in our country. Moreover, check the stock of drugs and the readiness of hospitals, although I know that the BOR (Bed Occupancy Ratio) is already all low. Once again, we have to start pushing our economy and always be ready to face all things that are uncertain, as today's global world is full of uncertainty and complexity of problems that have never occurred before," he emphasized.
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