Indonesia-Việt Nam: decades of friendship and cooperation

August 16, 2021 - 17:32

Ambassador Denny Abdi writes to Việt Nam News on the 76th anniversary of the Independence Day of Indonesia (August 17).

Ambassador Denny Abdi writes to Việt Nam News on the 76th anniversary of the Independence Day of Indonesia (August 17).

On August 17, 1945, Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta, the founding fathers of Indonesia, proclaimed Indonesia's independence on behalf of all Indonesian people. The determination for independence among Indonesians was a result of hundred years of colonisation.

Nonetheless, the proclamation of independence was only a start for building a nation. The struggle continues as Indonesia develops its more than 17,000 islands with diverse ethnic groups. The country has endured political turmoil and economic downturn tests and is now the third-largest democracy with prospective economic growth. 

The journey is never easy, but we are thankful that Indonesia can achieve its position and prestige in the global arena today. 

This year marks the 76th anniversary of hard-earned independence. The theme for the celebration is "Indonesia Tangguh, Indonesia Tumbuh" (A Resilient Indonesia; A Growing Indonesia). 

President Joko Widodo (right) and PM Phạm Minh Chính at Bogor Presidential Palace, April 23, 2021.  Photo BPMI Setpres/Cabinet Secretariat of the Republic of Indonesia

Before the pandemic, August used to be all about carnival and popular games like balap karung (sack raceor makan kerupuk (eating crackers). During these festivities, people get together in a patriotic spirit and rejoice in happiness.

The celebrations now move to the digital platform through the Indonesian Digital House. Furthermore, the flag-hoisting ceremony will be conducted with limited attendance and participated by the public virtually.

As 2020 was a challenging year, the pandemic has also offered valuable lessons on the importance of global cooperation to promote health infrastructure and governance, economic resilience, multilateralism, and setting aside rivalries. 

Now is the time to promote unity and cooperation. No one, no country should be left behind. Because during this global pandemic, no one is safe until everyone is safe.

That is why Indonesia is keen on conducting vaccine diplomacy. Our vaccine diplomacy is not only aimed at securing vaccine provision for domestic use but also paving the way for equal access to vaccines for all nations. 

Overview of Indonesia – Việt Nam Relations

The traditional relations between Indonesia and Việt Nam were built on shared feelings and determination to fight colonisation for independence. The historic reciprocal visits of the renowned leaders, President Hồ Chí Minh and President Soekarno, in 1959 were a testament to the closeness of both countries.

Ambassador Denny Abdi meets with Minister of Industry and Trade, June 22, 2021. Courtesy Photo of the embassy 

Nowadays, our friendly ties are positively manifested in the closeness of our leaders. For example, President Joko Widodo hosted Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính at the Bogor Palace in April 2021. Later, in July, President Widodo held a telephone conversation with President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc affirming both leaders' commitment to strengthen relations further.

Indonesia and Việt Nam are among the strongest and fastest-growing economies in the region. Both countries' economy represents 45 per cent of the ASEAN economy. Moreover, Indonesia and Việt Nam are home to around 60 per cent of people in ASEAN. With the increasing purchasing power in both countries, we can imagine the future of these two countries as the engine of growth of our region.

With this potential, Việt Nam and Indonesia carry a promising future for cooperation that can bring more benefit. Việt Nam is Indonesia's fourth largest economic partner in ASEAN and ranked ninth as Indonesia's biggest export destination globally. 

In terms of investment, Indonesia was among the first countries to invest in Việt Nam after the Đổi Mới policy in 1986. Despite the pandemic, the total bilateral trade in 2020 was US$8.2 billion. To achieve the targeted bilateral trade of US$10 billion, we need to boost potential cooperation, such as strengthening industrialization based on research and innovation, developing our digital economy, and enhancing fisheries cooperation.

I am impressed by how Việt Nam is determined to build its automotive industry. The birth of VinFast as the first "Made in Việt Nam" car is the nation's pride. It is also important to note that the company focused on acquiring the technology from other countries and building its cars with a Vietnamese touch. 

In Indonesia, the digital economy is the fastest growing industry. Google, Temasek, Bain & Company has projected the value of Indonesia's digital economy transactions to reach US$124 billion by 2025. Bukalapak, an Indonesian tech-unicorn, recently recorded the country's biggest initial public offering ever. The company helps millions of Indonesia's mom-and-pop kiosks ("warung") to get online. 

I believe that collaboration in developing the digital economy ecosystem will benefit both Indonesia and Việt Nam. 

Indonesia and Việt Nam also hold great potential in fisheries cooperation as both are blessed with rich marine resources. The two nations shall promote collaboration in producing key seafood products to become ASEAN contributors to the world's food supply. Moreover, stakeholders from both countries can also learn from each other to enhance their capability in developing sustainable aquaculture and seafood processing industries. 

In facing the pandemic and future challenges, Indonesia and Việt Nam must continue working closely together. With deepened collaboration, I am confident that the two countries will reach their utmost potentials and become the drivers of growth in ASEAN. VNS