Last updated in October 2018
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Jakarta in July 2012. During this visit, she concluded a wide-ranging basic agreement, the Jakarta Declaration, with then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. This provides the basis for close and multifaceted cooperation between Germany and Indonesia. President Yudhoyono then paid a state visit to Berlin from 3 to 6 March 2013. Bilateral relations have been further cemented by several ministerial-level visits to Indonesia, including those by then Foreign Minister Steinmeier in October 2014, Agriculture Minister Schmidt in April 2016 and Development Minister Müller in May 2017. The then Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, Christoph Strässer, visited Jakarta and Papua province in September 2015. Indonesian President Joko Widodo paid a working visit to Berlin on 18 April 2016, during which he and Federal Chancellor Merkel reaffirmed their commitment to the partnership set out in the Jakarta Declaration.
Bilateral relations, including political consultations and support for Indonesia’s desire for rapid free trade negotiations with the EU, focus on cooperation in international organisations, promoting bilateral economic relations and German assistance in reforming the Indonesian vocational training sector. Discussions also take place regularly on global questions such as climate protection, issues on the maritime agenda, sustainable development strategies and cooperation in the G20. As the largest members of the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) respectively, Germany and Indonesia connect on numerous points on the regional policy front. In 2019 and 2020, Indonesia and Germany will work together as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
As the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, Indonesia is an important partner for Germany in the dialogue on religious issues. The fourth German-Indonesian Interfaith Dialogue between representatives of both Governments and numerous civil-society organisations and religious communities was held in Berlin in September 2015. The Dialogue was augmented in 2016 and 2017 with meeting formats for churches, municipalities and civil society, and there are plans to further expand its scope in the future.
According to figures from the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), bilateral trade between Germany and Indonesia was worth 6.08 billion euros in 2017, of which German exports accounted for 2.69 billion euros and German imports for 3.39 billion euros. Up until 2012, German trade with Indonesia increased, reaching a high point of 7.16 billion euros; from 2012 till 2017, it hovered around a relatively low value of 6.55 billion euros. These values reflect the Indonesian economy’s poor integration into the world economy. Both exports to Indonesia (+14.4% over the same period in 2017) and imports from Indonesia (+17.2% over the same period in 2017) show an upwards trend for the period up to July 2018. Germany’s main exports to Indonesia were special machinery and motor vehicles (including components and parts).
German companies’ engagement in Indonesia
In 2017, German direct investment in Indonesia was worth 289 million US dollars (2016: 133 million US dollars). With total actual foreign investment in the country of about 32 billion US dollars, Germany’s share was around 0.9% (2016: 0.45%). In the first six months of 2018, German direct investment was approx. 129 million US dollars (first half of 2017: 182 million US dollars).
German companies active in Indonesia include Siemens, MAN and thyssenkrupp and, in the chemical sector, BASF, Bayer, Beiersdorf, Merck, Henkel and Evonik. Other major companies operating in the country are Allianz and Deutsche Bank in the finance and insurance sector; DHL, Schenker and Hapag-Lloyd in the logistics sector; and HeidelbergCement, FUCHS and Schott. Daimler/Mercedes‑Benz and BMW carry out the final assembly of cars in Indonesia.
The German-Indonesian Chamber of Industry and Commerce (EKONID) represents the interests of its more than 500 German and Indonesian corporate members. It offers consulting on market development to German and Indonesian companies, supports them in their efforts to establish business relations and works with partner organisations from Indonesia and Europe (www.indonesien.ahk.de).
As Germany’s official business promotion agency, Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) advises Indonesian companies seeking to expand their business activities to the German market and assists German companies hoping to enter the Indonesian market by providing foreign trade information. The GTAI website offers free access to information on various sectors of particular interest to German companies (www.gtai.de).
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) and the German Investment and Development Company (DEG), which belongs to KfW, continue to maintain country offices in Indonesia.
Indonesia is one of six Global Development Partners of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. In addition to its growing economic importance, Indonesia is relevant on the global stage in particular through its role in the area of climate change – not only because of its extensive forests and rich biodiversity, but also because of it being one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases.
German-Indonesian cooperation began as early as the 1950s. According to Federal Statistical Office figures, Indonesia received net German ODA of 281 million euros in 2015. At the last round of intergovernmental negotiations on development cooperation, held in Jakarta in July 2017, the two countries again agreed to undertake large-scale development projects in the priority areas of energy, sustainable economic development and vocational training, and environmental and climate protection. In the negotiations, Germany pledged a total of 163 million euros in assistance – 36.5 million for technical cooperation and 126.5 million for financial cooperation.
Germany is currently Indonesia’s third-largest bilateral development cooperation partner, after Japan and the United States. In addition, Germany provides substantial support for development programmes in Indonesia through multilateral institutions such as the United Nations, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the European Union. Germany also funds the work of non-governmental organisations and regional programmes through its support to ASEAN.
Scientific and technological cooperation
Bilateral scientific and technological cooperation is based on the relevant agreement signed in 1979. In addition to the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship programme and cooperation between universities, joint research projects are conducted on an ad hoc or thematic basis.
The biggest project in recent years was the construction of a tsunami early-warning system, on which agreement was reached following the 2004 tsunami. Construction of the system has been completed; it was handed over to Indonesia in March 2011.
Another large project will be completed in late 2018/early 2019 with the handover of a binary cycle geothermal power plant in North Sulawesi. In biotechnology, a whole series of projects are being conducted under the heading “biodiversity and health” with the aim of investigating antimicrobial resistances and expanding German and Indonesian biodiversity research collections.
In the field of forest science, studies and experiments have been carried out for several years to explore the impact of monocultures, specifically palm oil and rubber plantations in the Jambi province on Sumatra. This research is being funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG).
The long-standing successful cooperation in marine research within the framework of the SPICE III project is being continued through individual research projects and university collaborations. Research here focuses on marine biodiversity, climate change and coral reef and mangrove ecology.
Since April 2018, RWTH Aachen University has had a laboratory on the campus of Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Yogyakarta. Over the coming years, it will develop research activities at UGM under the name GetIn-CICERO, grouping these into four clusters: environment and water; sustainable georesources; coastal geohazards and climate change; and energy and raw material efficiency.
Cooperation on culture and education
Indonesia’s close relations with Germany are also evident in the culture and education sectors.
Germany enjoys an excellent reputation as a place to study and engage in research. The number of Indonesian students studying in Germany has risen to more than 4600, which represents a remarkable increase of 87.2 percent over the last five years. For years Germany has been one of the top choices for Indonesian students wanting to study abroad. The more than 30,000 alumni, who include Indonesia’s former President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, are important bridge-builders in the bilateral relationship. University partnerships, double-degree programmes and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarships help deepen cooperation and create lasting relations on both sides.
The Goethe-Institut in Jakarta, which also has branches in Bandung (West Java) and Surabaya (East Java), promotes wide-ranging cultural exchange between the two nations through its language and cultural programmes. Under the motto “Germany-Indonesia: Together Towards the Future”, the German Season 2015 celebrated the good relations between our countries. Over 100,000 visitors attended the German-Indonesian events in Indonesia, with themes varying between culture, politics, commerce and science.
The German language is becoming increasingly popular in Indonesia. There are currently some 150,000 Indonesians learning German, more than 19,000 of them doing so at one of the 29 partner schools. Just this year, another school in Indonesia joined the Schools: Partners for the Future (PASCH) system.
These partnerships developed out of the Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH) that was launched in February 2008 by Germany’s then Foreign Minister and now Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The PASCH initiative is designed to promote the education and training of teachers and students with a view to enhancing educational opportunities and providing a tangible experience of Germany at schools abroad.
The German School Jakarta celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2016. It offers the German International Abitur examination (DIAP) as a school-leaving qualification, which gives graduates the chance to study in Germany. Many opt to do so.
This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its Contents.