Indonesia and Kuwait, for peace and prosperity

Indonesia and Kuwait play important roles in promoting international peace and prosperity. Yet there is still plenty room to expand the long-standing ties between the two old friends.

Kuwait and Indonesia celebrated the golden jubilee of bilateral relations on Feb. 28, 2018, marking 50 years of excellent brotherhood between the two countries. In view of this milestone, Indonesia and Kuwait need to step up their relations and recalibrate their position amid the new geopolitical landscape. It is in this spirit that Indonesia and Kuwait convened the first session of the Higher Joint Committees of Indonesia and Kuwait on Monday in Kuwait City.

The admission of Indonesia to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has elevated and activated other features in our ties with Kuwait. Since then, the two countries have continued their solid work within the Council on issues of mutual concern, such as UNSC reform, the Middle East and Palestine, sustaining peace, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, the protection of civilians, mediation and counterterrorism.

From the issues of Palestine, Syria, Yemen and Libya to post-conflict peacebuilding in Iraq and Afghanistan, Indonesia and Kuwait are working side by side in advancing the voices of the Non-Aligned Movement, the Islamic world and all countries concerned about building and maintaining a more peaceful world.

Many concrete examples attest to the importance of Indonesian-Kuwaiti bilateral relations. From Jakarta’s support for Kuwaiti independence to reviving the Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung, the two countries have both contributed to socioeconomic growth in many developing countries.

From modest beginnings, the two countries’ ties are now being driven by several compelling factors.

First is humanitarian work. Over the last 50 years, Indonesia has gained a wealth of experiences in humanitarian assistance and disaster management through the international community has benefited much.

For instance, Indonesia has been recognized as global champion of disaster risk reduction since 2011.

On the Kuwaiti side, His Highness Amir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah received international recognition as a humanitarian leader through the UN secretary-general in 2014. The recent assistance Kuwait provided in several disaster-affected locations in Indonesia, including Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara and Palu in Central Sulawesi, are concrete examples of its humanitarian contributions.

Within this context, the humanitarian efforts the two countries have made in Palestine and Syria are critical to the continuation of the ongoing peace process. Moving ahead, both sides should engage in increased synergy and collaboration in their humanitarian efforts in Syria, Palestine, Yemen, Myanmar and other countries.

Second are mediation efforts, in which the two sides can each learn from the other’s experiences in implementing best practices.

Indonesia continues to support Kuwaiti mediation in resolving the Gulf crisis. Kuwait has maintained consistent endeavors in settling the dispute in a peaceful manner and in promoting the habit of dialogue in the Gulf.

On the other hand, Kuwait has also recognized Indonesia and ASEAN’s efforts to address the Rohingya issue in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in creating the conditions necessary for the safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees.

Third are economic cooperation and shared prosperity. Success in one requires success in the other; strong economic cooperation is also essential. These can be met only if we ensure full alignment between Indonesia Vision 2045 and Kuwait Vision 2035 in using the entire array of available tools.

Concerted efforts should be made that involve the added values and comparative advantages of the two nations. This means increased financial and political investment in the halal industry and Islamic finance.

Indonesia is the largest market for halal products, the second largest producer of halal cosmetics and the third largest halal fashion market, while Kuwait’s Islamic banking industry has grown rapidly to become an important part of the domestic and global Islamic financial systems. Kuwait has the fifth largest global share of Islamic banking assets and the sixth largest global share of Islamic funds.

Looking ahead, the sector holds high potential for exploring further. Doing so would require massive investment, not only in capacity building and development, but also in promoting awareness of the importance of Islamic finance to the world at large.

New information technology and social media platforms should also be utilized to cultivate the halal industry and markets and to increase their accessibility. It is this in this spirit of promoting more economic cooperation in this direction that Indonesia is convening the Halal Summit in 2020.

Another area of mutual interest is energy security. Once a major petroleum exporter, Indonesia now consumes as much as energy it produces, and Kuwait remains one of the world’s major energy-producing countries. This opens huge opportunities for cooperation in the energy sector, particularly in renewable energy.

The challenges to peace and development are many, but they can be tackled if the two nations act and work together to build mutual trust toward peace and prosperity.

Retno LP Marsudi
Foreign Minister of Indonesia

Reproduced from The Jakarta Post