H. E. Ferry Adamhar
The Indonesian embassy in Kuwait, which was inaugurated in 1976, has had nine other ambassadors at its helm, before the current ambassador, His Excellency Ferry Adamhar, arrived to take up his post. “I presented my credentials to His Highness the Amir in October, 2010. Since then, it has been an interesting and challenging two plus years in Kuwait and I look forward to serving my country and the Indonesian community here to the best of my ability during the remaining tenure,” said the Ambassador of Indonesia, at the beginning of an exclusive interview with The Times.
Ambassador Adamhar is a career diplomat who has been in his country’s Foreign Service since 1990. His professional career began with a three-year tenure in Geneva, Switzerland, where he represented Indonesian interests at international organizations like the Human Rights Council, World Trade Organization and the International Labor Organization. He then moved on to New York where he was engaged in legal and legislative matters while participating in multilateral committees and forums related to the Vienna Convention and others. In 2007, he was appointed as Consul General at the Indonesian Consulate in Hong Kong, where he served a further three years.
With a professional passion and energetic attitude, Ambassador Adamhar is fully committed to enhancing existing economic, social and cultural ties between Indonesia and Kuwait. Revealing a three-pronged diplomatic strategy to boost bilateral relations, the diplomat said, “Strengthening the strong bonds of friendship that already link the two people through cultural exchanges and tourism, enhancing bilateral relations in trade, commerce and investment, and sharing mutually supportive stances and viewpoints on international and regional issues, are areas that will help reinforce relations between our two countries and ensure it continues to gain momentum,” said the ambassador.
Describing tourism and cultural exchanges as the pivot for fostering relations on a people-to-people level, the ambassador added, “The level of tourism between our two countries is still in its infancy and there is vast potential for growth. While there has been a 20 percent increase in the number of tourists visiting Indonesia from Kuwait, we are working with the Kuwaiti government to increase this number by showcasing our country at various local exhibitions and fairs. Also, through better tourism marketing, we aim to focus on the features and benefits of travel to Indonesia, like easy visa availability, many daily flights, and diversity of tourism options. Add to this, the vast expanse of the country, its unique flora and fauna, as well as the genuine warmth of welcome by Indonesians, and I am sure in the next few years tourist arrivals from this part of the world will increase exponentially.”
Indonesia is the largest archipelago state in the world, by area and by numbers; with over 17,500 islands, only a third of which are inhabited, the land mass covers an area in excess of two million square kilometers. The diverse terrain and unique fauna are a distinct attraction; for instance, one can see the world’s largest Komodo lizard in its natural habitat only in Indonesia. The province of Bali, which retains its traditional and distinct Hindu culture and the largest Buddhist temple complex of Borobuder are other much-visited tourist attractions. In 2012, over 7.5 million visitors from around the globe arrived as tourists in Indonesia.
Continuing on this vein, the ambassador added, “In Indonesia we value tourism not just for the economic benefits it brings, but also for the cultural and social exchanges that take place when tourists from around the world arrive in our country. Traveling to the country from Kuwait is a relatively simple process; visa-while-you-wait at the embassy, visa-
on-arrival for many nationals, and even visa-on-the-plane, when you travel by our national carrier, Garuda Airlines, make travel formalities simple, quick and easy. And with six flights daily from Kuwait on different airlines, booking a convenient flight is also not an issue.”
On the economic front, Indonesia and Kuwait enjoy very stable and mutually beneficial trade relations. The total volume of trade between the two countries in the period January-October 2012 reached over US$ 2,089 million; this was an increase of over 70 percent from the figures during the same period in 2011. Although the import of gas and oil from Kuwait accounts for a significant chunk of this trade, direct import of Indonesian goods to Kuwait have also shown a marked increase, jumping by nearly 15 percent in 2012, in comparison to the corresponding ten-month period in 2011.
Clarifying the import figures, the ambassador said, “However, these figures do not take into account the value of Indonesian products that arrive in the country through ‘third-party’ countries that import them from Indonesian and then re-export it to Kuwait. My embassy and I are now focusing our efforts on facilitating the direct import of goods from Indonesia, by encouraging direct contacts between private sectors in the two countries, thereby reducing the current ‘by-proxy trade’. Towards this end, we are participating in various trade exhibitions in Kuwait and increasing exchange visits by business people in the two countries, and strengthening the business network through our initiative to form the Indonesia – Kuwait Business Council.”
“In my interactions with Kuwaiti businessmen and during personal visits to local ‘diwaniyas’ I never fail to stress the immense investment potential in Indonesia, its vast natural resources and ease of doing business in the country. In addition to exporting various products like furniture, handicrafts, textiles and paper, Indonesia is also the largest producer and exporter of Crude Palm Oil, and of rubber. Recently, the CEO of a Kuwaiti conglomerate visited one of our automotive tire manufacturing facilities and noted the amazing vertical integration in the factory; the entire supply chain, from rubber trees to auto tires, originated in Indonesia.”
“There are various fields in which the two countries can interact and exchange ideas, and the embassy is doing its best to strengthen business to business interactions. For instance, in December 2012, we facilitated the visit to Kuwait by members of the Rajawali Group, a leading Indonesian conglomerate in the private sector, as well as a visit to Kuwait Petroleum Corporation by a delegation from Pertamina, the state-owned petrol and gas company. Similarly, on Kuwait’s side, the upcoming Mubarak Al-Kabir port project could see significant participation by Indonesian companies and the state’s Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC) is actively participating in Indonesian offshore oil and gas blocks.”
Regarding investments in Indonesia, the ambassador enthusiastically asserted that the opportunities were immense. Besides having the largest economy in Southeast Asia and one of the fastest growing emerging market economies of the world, Indonesia is also a member of the G-20 major economies. The huge domestic market of 238 million people, added to markets easily accessible due to its geographical location and membership in many regional organizations, give investors potential access to an enormous market.
Elaborating on this the ambassador said, “As a signatory to various international treaties and accords, Indonesia is an investor-grade and business-friendly country where potential returns are high and investments secure. Though provinces in the country enjoy a high degree of autonomy, there is a single Investment Coordinating Board that handles all foreign direct investments by facilitating investment procedures and making it more conducive for international investors.
On the political arena, Indonesia and Kuwait share common interests and similar viewpoints on a number of regional and global issues and support each other at international forums and gatherings. “Both countries are committed to welfare and prosperity of their people and aim to solve issues through consultations and cooperation.
The Kuwaiti government has been extremely supportive in expeditiously solving all humanitarian issues leading to repatriation of workers stranded at transit houses in Kuwait. We are now negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding on a comprehensive labor agreement that hopefully will come into force soon.’ In conclusion, Ambassador Adamhar said, “My tenure so far has been both challenging and rewarding, however a lot of work remains to be done and I look forward to further enhancing bilateral relations between our two countries and its people.”