According to Australian Ambassador Paul Grigson, the biggest opportunities for Australian business may be in Indonesia’s regions. AIYA Victoria attended a keynote address with the Ambassador organised by Asialink Business at Corrs Chambers Westgarth in Collins street, Melbourne, last Monday. Edward Stephens provides his overview of the key points and advice from the event for businesses with an interest in expansion into Asia.


Ambassador Paul Grigson at the Asialink Business-organised business forum. Photo: Asialink Business

In his address, Ambassador Grigson cited key regions such as Surabaya, Makassar and Padang as growing significantly faster in business terms than the 4.8 percent national total, with Surabaya growing at 7.39 percent and Padang at 6.4 percent. He said that these regions offered excellent opportunities for Australian businesses looking to invest in Indonesia.

However, he cautioned jumping straight in, saying that the most important thing for businesses to do was to seek advice before going to Indonesia. Businesses could seek advice at the Australian Embassy, from Austrade or from other sources such as Asialink Business or the Australia-Indonesia Business Council (AIBC). According to the Ambassador, this was important thing businesses in Australia should do, before going to Indonesia.

The next most important thing to do was to find a good local partner. This may take time, he cautioned, but usually successful foreign investors in Indonesia have strong local partners. He noted that the AIBC sister organisation, the Indonesia-Australia Business Council (IABC) may be a good place to start in the search for a local partner.

Ambassador Grigson has had a long career with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Previously he served as ambassador to Thailand and Myanmar, as well as other roles. He brings a refreshing and direct style to the Australia-Indonesia relationship with sharp language and bold ideas to help bring Australia and Indonesia closer together.

While regional Indonesia presents many opportunities, so do many other sectors of Indonesia’s economy, such as health services, manufacturing and construction. The Ambassador predicted that education service exports from Australia to Indonesia would only continue to grow, particularly in the VET and TAFE sectors.

Ambassador Grigson also said that in the design and creative industries it was hard to find someone not connected to Australia. Many Indonesians working in the sector are alumni of Australian TAFEs and universities, and there are deep connections with Australia that are not often heard about.

Interested in the potential of transnational partnerships? Read about the Australia-Indonesia Centre’s signature initiate, the Australia Indonesia Leaders Program, here.