Key heading to Indonesia – five things you need to know

The Prime Minister touches down in Indonesia on Sunday, where John Key will meet with President Joko Widodo. Here are the five things he’ll be looking to address on his trip.

1. Terrorism

Terrorism will be high on the discussion list, particularly following the attack in Nice, France, earlier this week.

Indonesia has not been exempt in the fight against terrorism. Bombs and gunfire rocked the Indonesian capital of Jakarta in January this year, leaving eight people dead.

Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world and earlier this year local authorities claimed there were at least 1000 known Islamic State sympathisers in the country.

2. South China Sea

There is growing tension in the territorial dispute over the South China Sea with Indonesia now finding itself closer to the problem.

Chinese fishing vessels under the supervision of the Chinese coast guard have been reportedly intruding into Indonesia’s Natuna Islands exclusive economic zone.

That prompted a strong response from Indonesia, with President Widodo traveling to the island with the foreign minister and military top brass.

The South China Sea has competing claims for sovereignty including by China, Taiwan, The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei.

An international tribunal in The Hague has found that China’s claim has no legal basis. It also criticised China’s behaviour including its creation of artificial islands. The case was taken by The Philippines.

China has previously said it does not recognise the tribunal.

3. People Smuggling

Another issue to be discussed is people-smuggling. Indonesia is a critical partner to New Zealand in the security of the outer perimeters. Asylum seekers have to go through Indonesian waters to get to New Zealand shores.

A boat of asylum seekers tried to reach New Zealand from Indonesia earlier this year, but were intercepted Australian border patrol and turned back.

Allegations of people-smugglers being paid off to turn boats around and head back to Indonesia have caused rising tensions.

4. Human Rights

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s human rights record could also be up for discussion.

The death penalty is still in use in Indonesia, with 14 executions carried out last year. The Attorney General has announced that Indonesia is planning to complete up to 15 executions in 2016.

President Widodo has made undertakings to protect human rights, but Amnesty International claim little has been done by his government to address the issues.

The Papua provinces – including West Papua – are also heavily scrutinised, as allegations of oppression and military brutality continue to surface

5. Trade

Indonesia has a strong economy with annual growth at about 6 percent. Add to that a population of around 255 million, and the spending power is massive.

The Government is keen to strengthen New Zealand’s trade relationships with Indonesia, which is why a senior New Zealand business delegation will accompany the Prime Minister on this trip.

There could be some tension though with New Zealand currently standing alongside the United States in a legal claim against Indonesia before the World Trade Organisation.

The disagreement is over prohibitions on beef and certain horticultural products. Greater restrictions have resulted in an over 80 percent decline in beef exports for New Zealand alone. A ruling is expected later this year.

Indonesia’s large population is made up largely of young people.

This provides strong opportunity for growth with Indonesia in the international education industry.

More than 30,000 Indonesian tertiary students are currently studying offshore – but less than one percent of them have chosen to study in New Zealand. The challenge is a lack of awareness of New Zealand as a study destination.

New Zealand currently provides 50 scholarships each year to Indonesian students for postgraduate study.

Source: Newshub