Indonesia – Canada Relations
Indonesia-Canada diplomatic relations formally began when the two countries signed an agreement to open diplomatic missions in their respective capitals on October 9, 1952. However, relations between the two countries started in 1948, when Indonesia was struggling to gain international recognition for its independence from its former colonial power in 1945.
Canada, through General Andrew McNaughton as the President of the United Nations’ Security Council, managed to break the deadlock in the negotiation on resolving the conflict between Indonesia and the Netherlands that resulted in the adoption of Resolution 67/1949, which endorsed the establishment of a Tripartite Commission to hold negotiations with Indonesia and the Netherlands. The Tripartite negotiations lead to the international recognition of Indonesia’s sovereignty in December 1949.
At the initial stage of Indonesia’s independence, Canada also supported the development in Indonesia through the Colombo Plan during the 1950s.
Indonesia and Canada perceived the need to establish a mechanism which periodically measured the progress of their cooperation as reference for future development. Within this framework, On July 30, 1997, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, Ali Alatas and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, Loyd Axworthy signed a Joint Declaration by the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the Government of Canada on the Establishment of a Bilateral Consultative Forum. During the 17th APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in Singapore, November 13, 2009, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty M. Natalegawa and Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Canon emphasized that it was necessary to convene the Bilateral Consultative Forum (BCF) as soon as possible. Henceforth, Indonesia and Canada have carried out 2 (two) BCF, the first one was held in Ottawa, Canada in Mei 2011 and the second one in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in June 2012, when both countries are celebrating their Diamond Anniversary. The Bilateral Consultative Forum discussion varies from political, economic and socio-cultural issues. As agreed during the first BCF, the following Forums are presided by an Economic Dialogue and a Human Rights Dialogue.
Highlighting the 60th Anniversary of Indonesia-Canada Diplomatic Relations in which occurred on 9 October 2012, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, H.E. Dr. R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa visited Ottawa on 22-23 August 2012 to have a bilateral meeting with his Canadian counterpart, the Honourable John Baird on 23 August 2012, to discuss the progress of Indonesia-Canada cooperation in various fields and the way forward. Determined to elevate the cooperation, Minister Natalegawa and Minister Baird signed a “Joint Declaration by the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the Government of Canada on Enhancing Bilateral Consultations” after the bilateral meeting. The Joint Declaration specifies that the Bilateral Consultative Forum of Indonesia and Canada, which currently meets at the Level of Senior Officials, will be convened at the level of Minister of Foreign Affairs on an annual basis or as appropriate. The Forum will enable both countries to measure the progress of their bilateral, regional and international cooperation as reference for future concrete cooperation.
The third Indonesia-Canada Bilateral Consultative Forum was held in Ottawa, Canada, 22-23 August 2013, and for the first time lead by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia and Canada. Minister Natalegawa and Minister Baird held detailed discussions on bilateral issues and on regional and international topics of mutual interest. The Ministers agreed on the imperative to deepen bilateral engagement by focusing on increasing prosperity through trade, investment and economic cooperation, through political and security cooperation, and through collaboration on social, education, cultural and people-to-people contacts. The two ministers reiterated their Government’s mutual respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Forum was presided by an Economic Forum, Human Rights Dialogue and Senior Officials Meeting. The Human Rights Dialogue in 2013 was the 8th Dialogue. It discussed the best practices of human rights action plan and regional human rights institutions. Indonesia and Canada agreed to improve the human rights cooperation and regularly discuss the improvement in dealing with human rights issues.
In the parliamentary sector, Indonesia and Canada signed the Canada-Indonesia Parliamentary Friendship Group (CIPFG) on April 27, 2009. The Group is pursuing an objective to increase bilateral cooperation, mainly on the Parliamentarian side, as well as encouraging executives in each country to increase bilateral economic and trade relations. The CIPFG is revived in March 2012. By the end of December 2013, the members of CIPFG consist of 28 Senators/Members of Parliaments. The current Co-Chairs are Mr. Deepak Obhrai, MP and Senator Victor Oh. Since its revival, the People’s Consultative Assembly of Indonesia, the Indonesian House of Representatives and the Indonesian House of Regional Representatives have visited Canada in 2012 and 2013. They could meet their permanent Canadian Counterparts within the umbrella of CIPFG.
The relations between CIPFG and Indonesia-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group (ICPFG) were strengthened by the Joint Declaration between Indonesia-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Group and Canada-Indonesia Parliamentary Friendship Group on 24 October 2012 in Quebec City. The Signing was conducted at the sidelines of the 127th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Quebec City, on 21-26 October 2012, where the Indonesian Delegation actively participated in the Assembly. Based on the joint declaration, the two Parliamentary Friendship Groups agreed to lend mutual support and cooperation in bilateral relations, such as in promoting good governance and rule of law, as well as widening economic, trade and investment ties. They also agreed to cooperate within the framework of regional and international relations.
Indonesia and Canada also maintain their close relations in security and defence cooperation. Vice Minister of the Republic of Indonesia, Mr. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin visited Canada on 5-7 December 2013 to meet his counterpart, Mr. Richard B. Fadden, and to establish more effective defence cooperation with Canada.
In line with the emerging threats of terrorism, Indonesia and Canada work together in combating terrorism through various programs and share common positions in numerous multilateral organizations. During the third Indonesia-Canada Bilateral Consultative Forum in August 2013, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Counter Terrorism.
Canada gave technical assistance in the Counter Terrorism on Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons (CT-NBC) Program with the implementation of Training for Trainers. Since 2004, Canada also actively participated in the Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) and the Bali Regional Counter Terrorism Process chaired by Indonesia and Australia. In February, April and May 2011, Canada assigned its officers to provide trainings in JCLEC. The Indonesian and Canadian Forces continue to develop the cooperation by holding Public Affairs Training Course in Canada and Indonesia up to present, as well as Capacity Building Cooperation in English Language Teacher Trainer in Ottawa and St. Jean, Quebec.
Indonesia and Canada also lend mutual support in the international fora. Both are Co-Sponsor for the United Nations Resolution on Civilian Capacity in the Aftermath of Conflict, adopted by the United Nations in 2012.
Indonesia Economic Cooperation
According to the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board (Badan Koordinasi Penaman Modal/BKPM), realization of Canadian investment in Indonesia reached USD148 million (2010); USD2.2 million (2011); USD8.5 million (2012); USD124 million (2013), USD164,2 million (2014), and US$ 103,5 juta (2015).
The realization of Canadian investment in 2015 are in 19 projects, namely infrastructure; mining; industry; construction; transportation, warehouse and telecommunications; housing, industrial and office areas; and other services. The mining sector has the largest share of the investment at a value of almost USD130 million.
In 2016, Indonesia ranks 23rd as destination country for Canadian investment abroad with 0.5% share. Indonesia is also the biggest recipient of Canadian investment in Southeast Asia.
Several prominent Canadian companies that have operations in Indonesia are, among others, Manulife Financial, Sunlife Financial, Huskey, Talisman Energy, Sherritt.
Indonesia and Canada are closely engaged in development cooperation since the 1970s. Development programs are conducted in the fields of forestry, governance, environment, SMEs and women empowerment.
Development cooperation is an important pillar of the bilateral relationship; Indonesia is one of the Focus Country in Canada’s Development Cooperation policies with priority focus on:
- Supporting sustainable economic growth (SEG)
- Working with national and local partners to strengthen regional economic planning and program
- Encouraging increased managerial capability in the field of renewable resources to support regional economic development.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Directorate General of Watershed Management and Social Forestry Development, the Ministry of Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia and the Canadian Model Forest Network Concerning Cooperation on Sister Social Forestry and Model Forest Development, respectively was signed separately on 31st October 2012 in Jakarta, Indonesia and on 6th November 2012 in Ottawa, Canada, for a duration of four years between 2013-2016.
The purpose of the cooperation is (a) to enhance the capacity of social forestry actors; (b) to improve stakeholders collaborations and forest governance based on social forestry and the Principle and Attributes of Model Forests; (c) to improve community welfare and forest sustainability; (d) to realize Model Forest development in the Special Province of Yogyakarta, and potentially elsewhere in Indonesia. The activities include, among others, (a) education, training and workshops; (b) exchange of experience and experts, and (c) exchange of visits.
Total trade between Canada and Indonesia, period of January – October 2016 reached US$1.73 billion or a decrease of 14.52 % compared to the same period of 2015 (reached US$2.03 billion).
Total Indonesia’s export to Canada period of January – October 2016 reached US$ 599, 37 million, a slight decrease of 2.46% compared to the same period of 2015 reached US$ 614, 46 million.
Total Indonesia’s import from Canada period January – October 2016 reached US$ 1.138 billion decrease of 19.74% compared to the same period of 2015 reached US$ 1.418 billion.
Indonesia’s main export products to Canada in general are rubber and articles thereof, apparel, footwear, cocoa, coffee and furniture
Indonesia’s imports from Canada in general include cereal, fertilizers, pulp of wood, ores, electrical or electronics machinery and equipment
Education, Socio-Culture and Tourism
The image of Indonesian Tourism increased with the revocation of the travel warning by the Government of Canada on February 11th 2009. Tourism campaigns to attract Canadian tourists have been carried out each year in various Travel Marts, such as Ottawa Travel and Vocation Show and International Tourism and Travel Show. The number of Canadian tourists to Indonesia has been increasing every year from 56,501 (2012) to 56,798 (2013), and 61,386 (2014).
The Indonesian Embassy actively participates in various cultural events in Canada, such as: Ottawa Tulip Festival, Gala Asian Heritage Month, Expression of Muslim Women, International Food Fair, Canada Day, etc. Since 2015, the Indonesian Embassy has been holding the Embassy Day, an event which lets the embassy open its door to Canadian public to promote Indonesian arts, cultures, language, and tourism.
In education, the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia continues to facilitate cooperation in higher education in Canada and Indonesia. Several education collaboration programs have been undertaken, such as programs between McGill University and the Ministry of Social Services of the Republic of Indonesia (signed in 2014), University of Ottawa and the Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia (signed in 2015), McGill University and the Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia (signed in 2015), Carleton University and the Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia (signed in 2016), CEGEP John Abbott College and the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia (signed in 2006), CEGEP John Abbott College and the Indonesia Institute of the Arts, Yogyakarta (signed in 2012), CEGEP John Abbott College and Sekolah Tinggi Pariwisata Bandung (signed in2012).
Canada also participates in Darmasiswa, an Indonesia’s scholarship program, which focuses on socio-cultural and language education since 1987. For the 2016/2017 academic year, there are 3 (three) Canadian students joining this Program in Indonesia. It makes the total of 76 alumni.
Beside Darmasiswa, Indonesia also offers the Indonesian Arts and Culture Scholarship (IACS) which has been conducted since 2003 as a commitment in advancing the social culture cooperation in all regions in the world. The programme aims to cultivate a culture of cooperation, emerging from direct contact and sharing of cultures amongst people involved in the program, leading to thriving diplomatic relations in the region and worldwide.
The Government of Indonesia also cooperated with McGill University in arranging the interfaith dialogue to stress the importance of tolerance between the two countries held in Ottawa (2007) and Montreal (2008).
The closer bilateral relations between Indonesia and Canada are also reflected in the increasing number of high level visits as well as people to people visits to Indonesia and Canada.
Indonesia perceives Canada as a developed country with abundant potentials of cooperation in the field of politics, economy, technology and education while Canada is currently pivoting its policies towards Asia, including Indonesia that has been growing remarkably since its reformation process in 1998. Hence, the two countries need to further enhance their relations by exploring untapped potentials for the benefits and welfare of their peoples.