Last updated in March 2018
Along with political consultations, a range of issues are at the heart of bilateral relations. These include supporting Indonesia’s desire to quickly launch free trade negotiations with the European Union, promoting bilateral economic relations, assisting Indonesia in reforming its vocational training system, and deepening cooperation in the areas covered by the maritime agenda. Discussions between Germany and Indonesia also regularly take place on global issues such as climate change, sustainable development strategies and cooperation within the G20 framework. As the largest members of the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), respectively, Germany and Indonesia share similar positions when it comes to the many points of intersection on the regional policy front.
In recent years, high-level political contacts between Germany and Indonesia have markedly intensified. Germany’s then Federal President Christian Wulff paid a state visit to Indonesia from 30 November to 2 December 2011, while Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Jakarta in July 2012. During her visit, she concluded a wide-ranging basic agreement, the Jakarta Declaration, with then Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. This agreement provides the basis for a close and multi-faceted cooperation between the two countries. Indonesia’s then President Yudhoyono paid a state visit to Berlin from 3 to 6 March 2013. Relations have been further cemented by several ministerial-level visits to Indonesia,
including those by then Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in October 2014, then Food and Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt in April 2016 and Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Gerd Müller in May 2017. Germany’s then Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, 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.
As the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, Indonesia is a major partner of Germany in dialogue on religious issues. The fourth German-Indonesian Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue between representatives of the two countries’ Governments and numerous civil society organisations and religious communities was held in September 2015 in Berlin. 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 Indonesian Ministry of Trade, bilateral trade between Germany and Indonesia was worth 6.21 billion euros in 2017, of which German exports accounted for 2.67 billion euros and German imports for 3.54 billion euros. Germany’s foreign trade with Indonesia declined between 2011 and 2015, which was mainly a result of the Indonesian economy’s weak integration into international economic flows. Only China and – at a much lower level – Viet Nam were able to record increases. The slump in trade, however, bottomed out in 2016. Germany’s main exports to Indonesia are special machinery and motor vehicles (including components and parts).
German companies’ engagement in Indonesia
In 2016, German direct investment in Indonesia was worth 133 million US dollars. With total foreign investment in the country totalling about 29 billion US dollars, Germany’s share amounted to 0.45 percent. In the first six months of 2017, German direct investment in Indonesia had already reached 182 million US dollars.
German companies active in Indonesia include Siemens 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 Oil and Schott. Daimler's Mercedes-Benz division and BMW carry out the final assembly of cars in Indonesia.
The German-Indonesian Chamber of Industry and Commerce (EKONID, a member of the German Chamber Network) represents the interests of its more than 500 corporate members. EKONID offers consulting on market development to German and Indonesian companies, supports them in their efforts to establish business relations and works closely together with partner organisations from Indonesia and Europe (www.indonesien.ahk.de).
As Germany’s official business promotion agency, Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI) advises Indonesian companies seeking to expand their business activities to the German market and assists German companies seeking to enter the Indonesian market by providing foreign trade information. The GTAI website offers free access to extensive information on various business sectors of particular interest to German companies (www.gtai.de).
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) and the German Investment and Development Company (DEG), which is a KfW subsidiary, continue to maintain country offices in Indonesia.
Indonesia is one of the 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, which was held in Jakarta in July 2017, the two countries once again agreed to undertake large-scale development projects in the priority areas of energy, sustainable economic development and environmental and climate protection. In the negotiations, Germany pledged a total of 163 million euros in assistance, including 36.5 million euros for technical cooperation and 126.5 million euros 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
The bilateral agreement on science and technological cooperation between Germany and Indonesia, signed in 1979, established the basis for cooperation in this area. In addition to the scholarship programme of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) 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 an agreement was concluded in the wake of the 2004 tsunami. Construction of the system has been completed; it was handed over to the Indonesian authorities in March 2011.
Another large project will be completed in mid-2018 with the official opening of a binary cycle geothermal power plant in North Sulawesi. 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 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.
Furthermore, in April 2018, RWTH Aachen University will open 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 in 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 4100, which represents a remarkable increase of 67.4 percent over the last five years. Germany has for years been one of the top choices for Indonesian students who study abroad. The more than 30,000 alumni, which includes Indonesia’s former President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, are important bridge-builders in the bilateral relationship. University partnerships, double- degree programmes and scholarships of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) help deepen cooperation, as well as create long-lasting relations on both sides.
The Goethe-Institut in Jakarta, which also has branches in Bandung and Surabaya, 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 the countries. More than 100,000 visitors in Indonesia attended the German-Indonesian events, with themes varying between culture, politics, economy and science.
German is becoming increasingly popular in Indonesia. There are currently some 200,000 Indonesians learning German, with more than 14,000 of them doing so at one of the 28 partner schools all across Indonesia. 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 provides graduates with numerous opportunities, including the possibility to study in Germany.
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.