The Indonesian Embassy in Phnom Penh hosted an “Integrated Promotion on Tourism and Trade” this Saturday, to not only promote West Java as a tourist destination for Cambodians but also highlight several exports from the province.
The action-packed two-hour event featured many online elements, such as a speech by the Governor of West Java, as well a virtual tour of the Asia-Africa Museum, The Asia-Africa Museum commemorates the 1955 meeting between a number of post-colonial governments and was attended by none other than Prince Sihanouk.
This meeting is generally considered a precursor to the formation of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), of which both Cambodia and Indonesia were instrumental in its inception and formative years.
The event also heavily promoted the cultural aspects of tourism to West Java with a live dance performance followed by music, as well as the chance to try some traditional Javanese food and drinks.
Speaking directly to attendees Indonesian Ambassador Sudirman Haseng congratulated Cambodia on how well it has contained Covid-19, as well as managing to re-open the country to foreign tourists. He further added his hope for increased tourism between the two countries in a post-Covid environment.
As previously reported in Cambodia Investment Review, Indonesia welcomed 13,843 tourists from Cambodia in 2019, representing a 641 percent increase from 2018, while Cambodia received 66,804 Indonesian tourists, a 19.8 percent increase on the previous year.
These numbers have now been reduced by the Covid-19 pandemic and while Cambodia is now “open as normal”, Indonesia has taken a much more conservative approach.
Currently the tourist island of Bali has been semi-opened with reduced quarantine, although mainland Indonesia remains closed to international travelers.
Military Exports from West Java to Cambodia
Aside from future cooperation within the tourism sector, the Ambassador was keen to point out what he described as the “four strategic industries of West Java” namely PT Dirgantara Indonesia, PT Len Industri, PT Dahana, and PT Pindad.
These companies are active in many sectors including aviation, mining, and oil extraction, but are most prominent in the manufacture of arms and military equipment.
Military exports are seen as an important growth sector in the Indonesian economy, with the country boasting not only the strongest army in the ASEAN bloc, but also the 16th in the world, according to Global Firepower.
In 2019 the country exported over $1 billion in combat vehicles alone, principally to other ASEAN member states.
Military ties and cooperation between Cambodia and Indonesia have gained more prominence of late, as evidenced by the early November meeting between General Vong Pisen, commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, and Colonel I Nyoman Sukasana the outgoing military attaché to the Indonesian Embassy.
Future trade relations between Cambodia and Indonesia
In September, the new Indonesian Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia (IndoCham) was launched.
The chamber will operate under the country’s national phrase Bhinneka Tunggal Ika “Unity in Diversity” (one is more) according to President Dalton Wong who launched the new business chamber on Friday.
IndoCham President Dalton Wong is an Indonesian national and Chairman of Speedwind Group, a leading distribution and manage services company with the largest network in Cambodia.
In his inaugural speech Dalton said the newly formed chamber aims to build business, socio-cultural and community inclusiveness.
He added IndoCham planned to work very closely with business development and advisory companies such as Aquarii BD Cambodia and was quickly supported by the local Indonesian business community for its establishment.
Aside from tourism and military hardware, many other products were showcased at the embassy, with many familiar foodstuffs such as milk, potato chips, and noodles that are already available in local supermarkets complemented by cosmetics, medicine and clothing, all of which was available for the casual purchaser.
In 2020 trade volume between both countries reached $588.63 million, a 10 percent drop on the previous year, although this drop was largely blamed on the adverse effect of Covid-19.