Today, on the 78th Anniversary of the Independence Day of the Republic of Indonesia, I would like to convey my deepest appreciation and gratitude to the Government and People of the Kingdom of Thailand for the good wishes and messages of congratulations extended to us. My warmest greeting also goes to my fellow Indonesian community, Indonesian diaspora and friends of Indonesia in Thailand who also celebrate our Independence Day.
On this monumental day, I would also like to wish His Majesty Raja Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiralongkorn, members of the Royal Family, the Royal Thai Government and people of the Kingdom of Thailand good health, prosperity and long life.
This year, Indonesia’s Independence Day theme is “Terus Melaju untuk Indonesia Maju”, which translates to “keep moving forward for the advancement of Indonesia”. The theme itself reflects a sense of firmness, stability, straightforwardness and unity, as well as continuance growth collectively through the encouragement of our nation to share the responsibility to move in harmony towards an advanced Indonesia.
For Indonesia, this year is remarkable since we are honoured and privileged to be the chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) under the theme “ASEAN Matter, Epicentrum of Growth”. Indonesia's chairmanship is being carried out while the world is becoming increasingly complex. From the geopolitical and economic standpoint, the world is experiencing multi-dimensional challenges. Great power rivalries remain sharp. As such, these power rivalries require to be managed so that open conflicts and new wars do not arise. The same applies to the Indo-Pacific Region, where Southeast Asia lies at the centre of these dynamics.
Indonesia's chairmanship in ASEAN this year focuses on forming ASEAN as a stable and peaceful region, as an anchor of world stability. For such purpose, ASEAN must consistently uphold international law, not become a proxy for anyone, maintain its internal peace in Southeast Asia and the Indo-Pacific region, and become a dignified region that endorses human values and democracy. All of these can happen only if ASEAN continues to strengthen its centrality.
Furthermore, Indonesia's ASEAN chairmanship will focus on how to strengthen ASEAN to become a fast-growing, inclusive and sustainable economic region. To that end, ASEAN must build a solid regional health architecture, maintain food and energy security and sustain financial stability.
During our chairmanship, Indonesia will endeavour to strengthen ASEAN’s capacity and institutional effectiveness to be able to respond to the challenges of the next 20 years. Indonesia aims to gear towards ASEAN 2045, which must be more adaptive, responsive and competitive. All of these must be fought for in the ASEAN way, consistent with the spirit of cooperation and the full implementation of the ASEAN Charter. Furthermore, Indonesia aims for ASEAN to remain essential and relevant to make ASEAN Matter, which is deeply relevant for its people, the Indo-Pacific region and the world.
Indonesia and Thailand are also destined to remain close neighbours, reliable friends and key economic drivers of ASEAN. Our current relations grow stronger in every field of cooperation thanks to the active and constructive involvement of various stakeholders of both countries such as government institutions, business people, academicians and students, parliamentarians, media and the people.
Indonesia and Thailand, as both founding members of ASEAN and APEC as well as the two largest economies in the Southeast Asian region, will continue to propel the growth of the region in the upcoming years. The reopening of our economies after the pandemic has rallied the bilateral trade and investment between the two countries. Moreover, Thailand is Indonesia’s eleventh largest trading partner in 2022 with total trade reaching $19.15 billion. On the other hand, Indonesia’s total trade with Thailand grew by 18.01% in 2022 compared to 2021, with exports growing by 15.26% and imports growing by 20.14%.
Moreover, as Indonesia and Thailand are wealthy in tourist attractions and destinations, both countries are striving to revive our tourism industries to bounce back after the pandemic. This can be seen clearly by the number of Thais visiting Indonesia and vice versa recorded post the Covid-19 pandemic. 61,128 Thais visited Indonesia in 2022, an increase of 1.4% from 2021, while 235,632 Indonesians visited Thailand in 2022, an increase of 9.043% from 2021. This indicates that the tourism of both countries has revived and is steadily growing.
Nonetheless, there are still more opportunities for the two countries to further develop in the upcoming times, not only within the bilateral framework, but also ASEAN as well as international fora. Our solid cooperation and mutual solidarity at the regional and international levels help to build upon this foundation and further strengthen our friendship and cooperation to achieve our common goals, stability, progress and prosperity among our people in the region.
In line with the spirit to maximize the potential and opportunities we have, I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that the Indonesian Embassy in Bangkok will host a series of promotional activities as part of the “Trade, Tourism, Investment, and Cultural Forum” to be held from August through October 2023.
For those who would like to find and purchase various Indonesian products such as, Indonesian textiles, including Batik and Tenun (hand-woven colourful fabrics), handicrafts, souvenirs and Indonesian food, you are welcome to visit the Indonesia Fair held on 25-27 August 2023 at the Central World Shopping Mall. In addition, for those who love art and painting, you should visit the Indonesia-Thailand Collaborative Painting Exhibition on 5-29 October 2023 at the National Gallery of Thailand. Both of these programs are open to the public.
Meanwhile, there will also be programs for invited guests such as the Indonesia-Thailand Business Forum on 15 September 2023 at Grand Centara and Bangkok Convention Center for the business community and investors in Thailand to explore various potential investment opportunities in Indonesia, especially at the Indonesian New Capital-Kalimantan Island. We are also going to have an Indonesian Cultural Night on 17 September 2023 at the PiC Ganesha Theater Siam Square One. This program will showcase the diversity and uniqueness of Indonesian art and culture to the diplomatic corps, government officials, art and culture lovers, academicians and journalists.
I hope that this series of programs can serve its purpose to connect and further strengthen trust, confidence and people-to-people contact between our two peoples and bring mutual benefit to our communities.
Finally, I would like to convey my highest appreciation and heartfelt gratitude to all of the stakeholders in both countries for the kind support rendered to me to carry out my duties as the Indonesian ambassador to Thailand. Let us continue our good cooperation to further enhance our friendship and collaboration that will certainly bring mutual benefit to both our countries. Thank you!