Indonesia's Jokowi meets Tesla's Musk after nickel talks

Jokowi travelled from Washington to meet Musk at the SpaceX launch site in Boca Chica, Texas. PHOTO: JOKO WIDODO/TWITTER

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesian President Joko Widodo met Tesla chief executive Elon Musk on Saturday (May 14) in Texas to discuss potential investments and technology, Indonesia's government said in a statement.

The meeting between Mr Musk and Mr Widodo came after a round of working-level discussions on a potential investment in Indonesia's nickel industry and supply of batteries for electric vehicles (EVs), Indonesian officials told Reuters.

Representatives from Tesla were in Indonesia last week for meetings regarding a potential battery-related investment, Indonesian officials and two sources familiar with the talks have said.

Tesla had no immediate comment.

Indonesia for years has been trying to secure a deal with Tesla on battery investment and potentially for Mr Musk's SpaceX aerospace company.

Jokowi travelled from Washington, where he attended a meeting of leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), to meet Musk at the SpaceX launch site in Boca Chica, Texas. He invited the billionaire to visit Indonesia in November.

Mr Widodo is to host a summit of the Group of 20 big economies in Bali in November.

"Hopefully in November," the Indonesian government quoted Mr Musk as saying.

Mr Musk said there could be room for "partnerships in many things, because Indonesia has a lot of potential", the statement said.

Indonesia has the world's biggest nickel reserves, and Mr Widodo is keen to develop a nickel-based EV industry at home - from making nickel metal, to producing battery components and assembling EVs. In the past, he has also urged Mr Musk to consider a rocket launch site in Indonesia.

Two deals over the past month have given new momentum to Mr Widodo's push to develop an EV-related industry at a time when global automakers have been scrambling to secure supplies of battery materials and reduce their reliance on China.

A consortium led by South Korea's LG Energy Solution , the global No. 2 maker of EV batteries, announced plans last month to invest US$9 billion (S$12.5 billion) in Indonesia as part of a deal that would include everything from nickel refining to producing battery cells in Indonesia.

LG's larger rival, China-based Contemporary Amperex Technology, a Tesla supplier, announced a US$9 billion Indonesia investment in April.

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