Indonesia aims to prove itself with G-20 presidency

Indonesia is determined to prove to the world its "ability to keep the Covid-19 pandemic under control" as it prepares to assume, for the first time, the Group of 20 (G-20) presidency from December and to host the G-20 summit next year.

Italy will officially hand over the year-long presidency to South-east Asia's largest economy at the G-20 summit in Rome at the end of this month.

Indonesia's presidency will run from Dec 1 to Nov 30 next year.

Last Friday, President Joko Widodo visited the popular resort island of Bali, where the 17th G-20 summit will be held next year, and expressed his satisfaction with the preparations.

Bali has the reputation and the experience in organising global events, and "as the host we want to serve our guests well", he said.

"We must seize the opportunity to showcase our country's ability to control the Covid-19 pandemic, both health-wise and economic. We also want to show the progress we have achieved... and our leadership," Mr Widodo added.

A series of cumulative meetings over the year are expected to bring together thousands of delegates from all member countries and various international institutions, said a foreign ministry statement.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi had said last month that promoting inclusivity will be on the agenda for the meeting, which will bear the theme "Together, Recover Stronger".

Indonesia, she said, will not only pay attention to the interests of G-20 members, but also the interests of developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, including small island countries in the Pacific and the Caribbean.

She added that Indonesia will also embrace the involvement of various groups of women, youth, academics, the business world and Parliament. "This is indeed the DNA of Indonesia's foreign policies," said the minister.

Indonesia's economic growth has taken a beating due to the pandemic, with its gross domestic product (GDP) falling 2.1 per cent last year, its first negative growth in more than 20 years.

At the peak of its Covid-19 outbreak in July, daily cases exceeded 50,000, spurred by mass travel during the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays and the spread of the Delta variant.

Social curbs were imposed in mid-July and, since the beginning of this month, daily infections have fallen to below 2,200.

Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto told a briefing last month that the G-20 summit could raise domestic consumption by up to 1.7 trillion rupiah (S$162 million), add up to 7.47 trillion rupiah in GDP and create 33,000 jobs in various sectors.

Indonesia hopes to showcase several structural reforms, such as its omnibus law on job creation that is meant to simplify regulations on investments, as well as the creation of a sovereign wealth fund which will facilitate local and foreign investment to help finance development programmes.

The minister added: "Surely this will boost confidence from global investors to accelerate our economic recovery and encourage mutually beneficial global partnerships."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2021, with the headline 'Indonesia aims to prove itself with G-20 presidency'. Subscribe