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Indonesia relations with Brazil are booming

Sep 11, 2009

Relations between the world’s two biggest resource-rich nations – Brazil and Indonesia – are booming, with expanded trade and investments and a personal rapport between the two countries’ leaders, says Brazil’s new ambassador to Indonesia Manuel Innocencio de Lacerda Santos Jr.

“With the tremendous increase in our political and economic relations, both countries agreed to establish a strategic partnership last year. In fact, bilateral relations have been booming in recent years,” Ambassador Santos Jr. told The Jakarta Post in a recent interview at his office in Jakarta.

Santos Jr. said Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had a close personal friendship and had already visited each other’s country.

“The leaders have very good chemistry between them,” he said.

Brazil, which has a US$1.60 trillion GDP, is a fast-emerging global player.

The key signs of Brazil’s rise include the dynamic leadership of Lula; the newly found oil wealth; expanded exports; booming agriculture; political and financial stability; low inflation; a consumer boom; and huge flows of foreign and domestic investment

After a decade of ups and downs and experiments with democracy, Indonesia has been moving along the same trajectory as Brazil: Both are now members of the influential Group of 20 (G20) economies.
Santos Jr. said he came to Indonesia at the right time.

Brazilian National Day: A Capoeira artist performs at a reception in Gran Melia Hotel in Jakarta, on Monday. The reception was organized by Brazilian Ambassador to Indonesia Manuel Innocencio de Lacerda Santos Jr. to celebrate Brazil’s 187th National Day. Local band Bossa Nova also entertained the guests, who mainly consisted of the Brazilian community, diplomats, businesspeople, public figures and senior officials. JP/Wendra Ajistyatama

“I was so lucky to come to Jakarta at the right time. It was quite natural for both countries to discover one another’s economic potential at the same time,” Santos Jr., who submitted his credentials to President Yudhoyono on Aug. 12, 2009, said.

“We saw an enormous increase in our bilateral trade last year,” Santos Jr. said.

Bilateral trade jumped to $2.36 billion in 2008, a huge increase from the $1.47 billion in 2007. During the last five years, trade has, in fact, more than tripled; in 2004, the bilateral trade value was just $771.83 million (see graphic).

Santos Jr. said Indonesia mainly exports yarn, natural rubber, fixed vegetable fats and oil, automotive spare parts, and cocoa to Brazil and imports the semi-finished products of iron and pig iron, iron ore, soybean oil cake, cotton, tobacco and leather from the land of the samba.

“What is surprising is that we still have a lot of room for further growth in our bilateral trade. Actually, we have lot of work to do,” Santos Jr. said.

As well as exports and imports, Brazil has been looking for closer cooperation in the areas of biofuels, agriculture, culture, tourism and climate change.

“We are very good at producing ethanol and are ready to help Indonesia develop its biofuel industry,” Santos Jr. said.

On the investment side, Brazil’s biggest investment is in PT Inco.

“The Brazilian company has bought the parent company of PT Inco, which is based in Canada.

Brazilian companies are interested in investing in Indonesia and we also want Indonesian investments in Brazil,” Santos Jr. said.

When asked about his main mission in Indonesia, Santos Jr. said he would work to make the strategic partnership a reality.

“My main mission in Indonesia is to strengthen the overall relationship and realize the strategic partnership,” Santos Jr. said.

He added that in mid-October, the countries will design an action plan on strategic partnership during their Joint Commission meeting in Brasilia.

However, in the growing bilateral relationship, there is a missing link.

“We don’t have transportation links between the two countries. It is very important to have air links, so this is another of my priorities,” Santos Jr. said.

Brazil is one of the biggest beef producers and exporters in the world.

“We have been working for quite some time to bring our beef to Indonesia. I do hope the Indonesian government will allow us to export our beef here soon, as we would like to see our steak houses in Jakarta,” Santos Jr. said.

Although Brazil is well-known for its samba dance and soccer, the media- friendly Brazilian ambassador has other plans.

“I would like to introduce to Indonesians a Brazil that is beyond samba and soccer,” Santos Jr. said.
Brazil, the only colony that became the capital of its colonial master Portugal, is very good at various types of music and martial arts.

“I have seen Indonesians playing Brazilian music here. They were really good,” he said.

His Embassy is planning to organize several cultural programs in the coming months, he said.

Santos Jr. says he is very happy to be working in Indonesia.

“I feel at home here. People here are very friendly. There are so many similarities between us,” Santos Jr. said.

Santos Jr. joined the Brazilian Foreign Service in 1980. During the 29 years of a distinguished diplomatic career, he has served in Germany, Czech Republic, Iraq, Canada, Congo and Sao Tome and has been awarded numerous decorations and merit awards.

Indonesia relations with Brazil are  booming

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