Posted on April 7, 2021 at 18:16 in
The UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, visited Indonesia on April 7, where he met his counterpart, Retno Marsudi, with whom he decided to intensify the security, defense and trade ties between their respective countries. The parties signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
In Jakarta, Raab announced that the British Royal Navy will send a strike group led by the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, the most sophisticated of the fleet, in the Indo-Pacific region, demonstrating London’s commitment to its regional partners. Retno said maritime security is one of the many areas in which Jakarta should seek greater cooperation with London. In agreement with his Indonesian counterpart, Raab then declared that the respective countries, as maritime powers, have an interest in ensuring that the rule-based order is preserved, the basis of which is contained in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
At present, the exact date of arrival of British warships in the Indo-Pacific has not yet been revealed but it is estimated that this will be around June 2021. Once in the region, the group will cross the South China Sea, at center of disputes between China and several countries in the area, and will conduct military exercises with both Japan and the USA. Although Indonesia is not officially part of the South China Sea disputes, its special economic zone overlaps with areas claimed by Beijing around the Natuna Islands.
China, for its part, had stated that it would adopt adequate counter-measures to safeguard its sovereignty. Meanwhile, the London government has announced its foreign and defense policy priorities after leaving the European Union (EU). In the document, the United Kingdom expressed its willingness to increase its presence in the Indo-Pacific and its influence in the countries of the region. On April 7, Raab then declared that Indonesia is at the center of British projects in the Indo-Pacific.
In addition to talking about defense cooperation, Jakarta exposed two other priorities, namely joint work in the field of research and development of the medical sector and the sharing of coronavirus vaccines with developing countries, through the system Covax. At the moment, Indonesia has mainly resorted to the Chinese vaccine produced by Sinovac but has also received 1.1 million doses of the English one, produced by AstraZeneca.
From a commercial point of view, however, the parties have undertaken to cooperate in several areas. Trade between the parties totaled $ 2.24 billion in 2020, and British investments in Indonesia increased by 35% to a total of $ 72.5 million. On April 7, Retno expressed concern over a proposed law in the UK covering products such as palm oil, of which Jakarta is the world’s largest producer, cocoa and rubber, under which British importers could be required to declare whether imported goods have a negative impact on the environment or not.
Retno and Raab also talked about regional issues such as the situation in Myanmar, where the Burmese Army took power last February 1 and where protests are underway that have caused the death of about 600 people to date.
In addition to Retno, Raab also met the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, the Indonesian minister of health, Budi Sadikin, and the Secretary General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Lim Jock Hoi,
In October 2020, Retno traveled to the UK where she met Raab. According to various observers, the visits reflect each other’s intention to pursue strategic ties. London aims to become a dialogue partner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and thus be able to participate in meetings between the group’s defense ministers.
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Camilla Canestri, Chinese and English interpreter
by Editorial staff