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, during Indonesia’s struggle 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, helped 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’s development effort through the Colombo Plan during the 1950s.
Bilateral Consultative Forum
The establishment of Indonesia and Canada Bilateral Consultative Forum (BCF) dates back from 30 July 1997, when the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic 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. Later during the 17th APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in Singapore, 13 November 2009, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty M. Natalegawa and Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Canon emphasized that it was necessary to convene the BCF as soon as possible. Henceforth, Indonesia and Canada 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 were celebrating their Diamond Anniversary. The BCF discussion varies from political, economic and socio-cultural issues. As agreed during the first BCF, took place prior to the Forum an Economic and a Human Rights Dialogue.
Furthermore, 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 previously held at the Level of Senior Officials, be convened at the level of Minister of Foreign Affairs on an annual basis or as appropriate. The Forum has enabled 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 led by the Minister 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. Both 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, which was the 8th Dialogue discussed 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.
The following year, on 4 – 5 August 2014 in Jakarta, Indonesia, the Fourth BCF of Indonesia – Canada was convened to continue further bilateral engagement in various sectors as it stated in the previous BCFs. The BCF-IV agreed to launch a roadmap towards a future comprehensive partnership in the form of a Plan of Action for the period of 2014 – 2019, in order to enhance mutual cooperation for the achievement of more results-oriented and measureable goals. The next meeting of BCF-V was agreed by the Forum to be convened in Canada.
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 to encourage executives in each country to increase bilateral economic and trade relations. The CIPFG is revived in March 2012. 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, in which the Indonesian Delegation actively participated in. Based on the joint declaration, the two Parliamentary Friendship Groups agreed to lend mutual support and cooperation in bilateral relations, such as 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. By the end of December 2013, CIPFG’s membership accounted for 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 frequently visited Canada every year since 2012 until 2016. The Delegation met their permanent Canadian counterparts in CIPFG and other related Standing Committees. During 2015 – 2016, there were 8 official working visits of the Member of Parliamentarians to Canada. An official visit to Indonesia by Canadian Senate also took place in 2015. Under the new administration of PM Trudeau, which commenced at the end of 2015, the formation of CIPFG for the period of 2016 – 2019 with its new member of 18 Canadian parliamentarians has been endorsed on 25 February 2016.
Security and Defense
Indonesia and Canada also maintain their close relations in security and defense cooperation. This is reflected by the working visit of Vice Minister of Defence of the Republic of Indonesia, Mr. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin in Canada on 5 – 7 December 2013 to meet his counterpart, Mr. Richard B. Fadden, to ensure the establishment of more effective defense cooperation with Canada.
An even increase of security related issues, including threats of terrorism, Indonesia and Canada agreed 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. This Memorandum is treated as an umbrella for programs that has been conducted previously. Canada has provided technical assistance in the Counter Terrorism on Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons (CT-NBC) Program with the conduct of Training for Trainers. Since 2004, Canada has also actively participated in the Jakarta Center for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) and 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. On September 2014, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Indonesia National Police (INP) signed MoU on Police Cooperation notably in the area of counter-terrorism. Canada’s Counter Terrorism Capacity Building Program supports extensive training for the INP and includes the placement of an RCMP officer in JCLEC. All programs are still taking place until today, according to mutual arrangement determined by both party.
Indonesia and Canada also lend mutual support in international forum. 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
In education sector, the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia continues to facilitate cooperation in higher education between 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 in 2012).
Students from Canada also participate 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.
In addition to Darmasiswa, Indonesia also offers the Indonesian Arts and Culture Scholarship (IACS) IACS, which has been conducted since 2003, is Indonesia’s vehicle to advance 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 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, a regular event in which the embassy open its door to Canadian public to promote Indonesian arts, cultures, language, and tourism.
Indonesian Tourism continuously attracts an increasing number of Canadian tourists to visit Indonesia, from 56,501 (2012) to 56,798 (2013), and 61,386 (2014). 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.
Inter-faith Dialogue between Indonesia and Canada has been conducted for three time, in Ottawa (2007), Montreal (2008) and Vancouver (2013).
In 2008, the dialog was conducted in cooperation with McGill University, Montreal. Under the theme “Canada and Islam in Asia”, promotes new premise that Islam and democracy can work hand-in-hand. Canada put deep concern towards the importance of building bridges of understanding and cooperation between the Moslem world and the West. Indonesia is also in deep interest and has a strategic role to promote a rahmatul-lil-alameen (mercy to the world) Islam.
In 2013, in collaboration with the Ministry of Religious Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Canada (Simon Fraser University) and Indonesia (Universitas Islam Sunan Kalijaga, Seminari Agama Jakarta and Sekolah Tinggi Filsafat Drikarya) held an Inter-faith dialogue under the theme “Inter-faith Dialogue in a Plural Society in Vancouver.”
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 and Canada has built a strong cooperation since the beginning of their diplomatic ties in the field of politics, economy, technology and education. In addition, with Canada’s policy pivoting Asia, as well as Indonesia’s fast growing economy over the last decade, the two countries need to further enhance their relations by exploring untapped potentials for the benefits and welfare of their peoples.