In the first two months of the year, trade between oil-rich Norway and resource-rich Indonesia increased 326 percent from 2009, Royal Norwegian Ambassador to Indonesia Eivind S. Homme said to The Jakarta Post.
Based on the Indonesian Central Statistics Agency (BPS), the bilateral trade jumped to US$112.05 million in the first two months of 2010 from $26.30 million during the same period in 2009. Total trade was only $144.63 million in 2009.
“It’s fantastic news. I am very glad that both countries’ economies are doing well amid the financial crisis. They [trade ties] will grow further in the coming years,” Ambassador Homme told The Jakarta Post recently ahead of Norwegian Constitutional Day, which was celebrated on Monday by Norwegians around the world.
On every May 18, Norwegians celebrate the signing of the Norwegian Constitution in Eidsvoll in 1814. The Constitution declared Norway an independent nation.
Indonesia primarily exports furniture, textiles, shoes and telecommunications equipment to Norway and imports fertilizer, salmon, industrial machinery and oil (from the spot market) from Oslo.
What contributed to this sudden surge in trade?
“We have had very good relations with Norway for many years. Our main focus is on energy, [especially hydro electricity as well as oil and gas], climate change, fisheries, democracy and economic cooperation,” the Indonesian Foreign Ministry’s Director General for American and European Affairs Retno LP Marsudi said recently.
According to the Foreign Ministry, Indonesia has since 1951 signed 18 economic agreements with Norway, including on air transportation, ship building, energy, investment and fisheries.
Norway, which owns 1 percent of global stocks, has a $400 billion government pension fund.
With its democratic credentials, enormous resources and 240 million people, Indonesia has been become an attractive place for Norwegian investors.
Norwegian state oil and gas company Statoil, which has operations in 40 countries and posted $1.84 billion in net profit in the the first quarter of 2010, has over the past few years invested millions of dollars per year in the exploration of two Indonesian deepwater oil and gas blocks — Karama and Kuma.
“We have already commenced drilling at the Karama block in the Makassar Strait. We are also trying to acquire a stake in Natuna D-Alpha gas field. We are here with a long-term perspective,” Statoil Indonesia’s president director Tor Fjaeran told the Post recently at Statoil’s headquarters in Stavanger, Norway.
Norway has also placed orders with an Indonesian shipbuilder in Batam.
“The shipbuilding contract is worth $656 million and provides hundreds of jobs to local people,” Homme said.