Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of the Kingdom of Denmark and His Royal Highness the Prince Consort will travel on a State Visit to Indonesia in October. Amid the comprehensive preparations, Denmark’s Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr. Casper Klynge, took time out of his busy calendar to speak to ScandAsia about what we can expect from this looming event.
“It’s a very important year for Denmark and our partnership with Indonesia, the world’s 3rd largest democracy,” Ambassador Casper Klynge begins.
“The main reason is of course that we have the official State Visit in October by Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Prince Consort. This event is part of our clear ambitions to boost the bilateral relationship between Denmark and Indonesia,” he says.
In a similar vein, Casper Klynge goes on to elaborate on Denmark’s focus on Indonesia: “We are these days welcoming two additional posted diplomats from Denmark to the Embassy in Jakarta. This includes a new Head of Trade – the first ever at the Embassy and a concrete sign of the importance that Denmark is attaching to the world’s 4th largest country, Indonesia. The second colleague is a bit of novelty, a new creation – it is a government-to-government (G2G) advisor in the field of energy.”
“With the addition of the G2G advisor, the Danish Embassy to Indonesia now has all instruments available in its diplomatic toolbox; political & development cooperation, commercial activities as well as a recently launched cultural programme. This broad range of instruments creates opportunities for the embassy to harness the synergies arising in the intersection of these policy areas. In short it enables a small country like Denmark to become a better and more relevant partner to an emerging superpower like Indonesia,” says the ambassador.
In relation to the State Visit and the accompanying business delegation, the embassy is focusing on four specific focus areas; Urban & Cleantech Solutions, Agribusiness, Design & Lifestyle, and Maritime.
These sectors represent traditional Danish strongholds as well as being priority areas for Indonesia – or areas where the country faces specific challenges. According to the Ambassador, this lays the foundation for a win-win situation: “We believe it is important to focus on a few, carefully selected sectors where ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ fits together perfectly.”
“Obviously there is also a commercial dimension to the visit; we believe that Denmark has lots of valuable knowhow and technology that can contribute to Indonesia’s green transition,” the Ambassador says.
Raising awareness in Indonesia and at home
“The State Visit is a gift from above in that it is a unique opportunity for us to raise awareness about Denmark and Danish solutions in a wide range of areas, from climate change issues to increasing food production and productivity. These are all areas where we think the State Visit can be used to promote a partnership and enhance cooperation between our two countries.”
“It is also a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of Indonesia in Denmark. I think Indonesia remains one of the best-kept secrets both in Denmark and in Europe. Strolling the streets of Copenhagen and asking about the size of the Indonesian population, most would not be able to guess the correct number. So there is a lot to do in explaining what Indonesia and its 250 million people are, as well as illustrating the vast commercial opportunities this country holds.”
The ambassador anticipates a lot of attention both before and during the State Visit, and is sensing a growing interest among Danish companies in joining the business delegation traveling together with H.R.H. Queen Margrethe II and H.R.H the Prince Consort and government representatives.
“It is our first ever State Visit to Indonesia, and of course it will cover a wide range of our bilateral cooperation. I am hoping for a sizeable trade delegation as well as representatives of the Government. We are looking very much forward to this occasion here in Jakarta,” says Casper Klynge.
Prominent Danish business organisations such as the Confederation of Danish Industry and the Danish Agriculture & Food Council have already announced their participation in the delegation. But smaller and less known companies are also voicing their intention to partake. The combination of large, experienced corporations and small, innovative businesses is something that pleases the Danish Ambassador: “From a commercial perspective, I think an interesting part of the State Visit is that also some of the SMEs will tag along; companies that despite their size provides world-class solutions to specific challenges.”
Getting on before train departs
Speaking of the commercial opportunities, Casper Klynge is often confronted with the difficulties in operating in the Indonesian market and is not shying away from expressing his opinion: “Indonesia still has significant challenges in regards to corruption, red tape, protectionist legislature, etc. We do not want to paint a rosy picture and it is true that it can be a difficult market to penetrate. However, that is what the Embassy is here to help with; we can provide advice and suggestions on how to avoid some of the classic traps and pitfalls. As a foreign company you also have to keep in mind that Indonesia is a huge market; 250 million people and an exploding middle class projected to reach 130 million people by 2030. These conditions should not go unnoticed. In addition, the Indonesian government must be praised for its increasing focus on fighting corruption and red tape and not least in facilitating trade and foreign investment.”
The message from Casper Klynge is clear: The moment is pivotal and companies need to get moving before it is too late: “Operating in Indonesia certainly requires a long-term strategy. But we think it is time to board the train – it is leaving the station now! And if Scandinavian companies lose sight of the opportunities, well then they will not be the ones that capitalise in 3-5-10 years. Instead market shares that are natural fits with our companies will have gone to others. So we are also trying to use the State Visit as an opportunity to illustrate the potential and perspectives of gaining access to the Indonesian market.”
Denmark’s ambassador also views this as a long-term effort.
“Following the State Visit, we will offer companies looking to enter the Indonesian market the opportunity of tailor-made activities. We really see this as a longer process with fantastic opportunities that will open doors for Danish companies.”
Taking bilateral relations to the next level
These efforts to ensure greater economic ties between the two countries are inter alia based on the Danish government’s ‘Growth Strategy Indonesia’, aiming at doubling Danish export to Indonesia by 2016.
“The growth strategy has been our bible for a couple of years since it was adopted by the Government. One of the reasons why we are now welcoming new colleagues to the embassy is a concrete outcome of the growth strategy and the focus on emerging markets like the G20 country of Indonesia,” notes the Ambassador.
“The growth strategy has been a fantastic tool in order to focus on the opportunities that exist in an emerging market like Indonesia. We have already reached many of the targets, while other parts of it have been overtaken by other events. In many ways the strategy has been instrumental in moving us to the next level.”
Creating attention in Indonesia around a small country like Denmark requires smart approaches, and the Danish Embassy has therefore successfully utilized some guerrilla marketing tactics. Biking around larger Indonesian cities in collaboration with the Norwegian embassy and the local NGO ‘Bike2Work’, has drawn a lot of attention in the media. It has, in the words of the Ambassador, not only been a fantastic Public Diplomacy tool, it has also opened government doors and supported commercial activities.
On a personal level, the ambassador says he is pleasantly surprised about the level of attention the Indonesian government is placing on the State Visit.
Here, Ambassador Klynge makes an observation about the historic dimension: “Indonesia’s history with smaller kingdoms and sultanates has created a special fascination with royal families. This fascination is perhaps part of the reason why the Indonesians look very much forward to the visit from the Queen of Denmark. Once you get to know the culture and the history of Indonesia you get a much better understanding of what it is that makes a royal visit from a small country so interesting and fascinating, also to Indonesians.”
“A royal visit really has traction and it is evident that it is being taken very seriously, even though the queue outside the Presidential Palace in Jakarta is getting quite long, with many foreign heads of state wanting to visit Indonesia in recognition of the country’s increasing importance.”
“In that sense we are grateful and humbled that we have been able to secure a Danish State Visit almost on the day when Indonesia’s President, His Excellency Joko Widodo, celebrates his one year anniversary since taking office.”