Speech by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at a high-level networking luncheon with the business community in Jakarta on 3 November 2015

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It gives me great pleasure to open my state visit to Indonesia by attending this networking luncheon. Surrounded by your kind hospitality and as a person with a background in economics, I feel especially welcome to this business event in your beautiful country.

The main purpose of this luncheon to bring together Finnish and Indonesian actors from the public and private sectors in order to create new partnerships and strengthen existing ones. New and constructive links and contacts can – and hopefully will – lead to concrete projects and investments between our countries.

The economic potential of Indonesia comes as no surprise. Despite the hardships and turmoil in the global economy, Indonesia has stayed on track and is growing rapidly. This makes Indonesia an interesting partner for investments and economic cooperation. Through new actions and reforms, you are building a dynamic society.

The common path of Indonesia and Finland started more than sixty years ago. Our countries may seem very different at first glance. Indeed, we are geographically far away from each other and have dramatically different weather conditions. In Finland we are waiting for the first snow of this winter while we enjoy – and I really mean enjoy –
a tropical climate here in Jakarta. In terms of population, Indonesia is one of the largest countries in the world while Finland belongs to the group of smaller ones.

But a closer look also reveals many similarities. Indonesia and Finland have both the largest archipelagos in the world. Due to this unique relationship with nature, both countries have had to find solutions to challenges in terms of mobility, transportation, communications and energy systems. On the other hand, such challenges have also created opportunities for our countries.

One of the similarities concerns also our forests because we both benefit from forests economically and culturally. I was saddened to learn that forest fires in Indonesia have demanded numerous lives and have caused serious health problems. Forest fires are common to us also in Finland, and we have put effort to prevent them. So, if there is any help that we could provide, we would be more than happy to do so.

The value of trade in goods between Indonesia and Finland was over 400 million euros in 2014 and it has grown remarkably – by 64 percent – since 2013. Finnish companies are currently implementing projects worth almost one billion euros in Indonesia. Promising new business negotiations are also underway. Around 15 Finnish companies are now operating in Indonesia and many others, some of which are here today, are already knocking at your door. I hope the door to our future cooperation stays wide open!

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Finns are known for being modest. Even on occasions like today, when there is good reason to boast a little. So, today, I would like to make a slight exception, if a modest one:
Finland can offer foreign investors a great deal. Finland is the 8th most competitive country in the world according to the World Economic Forum´s Global Competitiveness Report published at the end of September. Our strengths include our transparent and efficient public institutions, primary and higher education, and innovations. Even if our market is small, with 5.4 million inhabitants, we are pragmatic and focus on functionality. Finns make sure that things work and keep working.

Agility and hard work is needed to succeed in a constantly changing world. This mindset is deeply rooted in Finns and drives us forward. In every case, we look for a practical solution – turning setbacks into steps forward.

We value beautiful and unpolluted nature. Finland has four seasons characterized by dramatic contrasts such as the midnight sun and pitch dark nights with the northern lights. These experiences are completely different to those provided by man-made attractions. This unique relationship with nature makes sustainability natural to us. Due to our harsh climate and lack of fossil fuel resources, our industry and society have learned to use energy sparingly. We have accumulated know-how and developed cleantech solutions and products that meet market demand all over the world.

The wellbeing of Finnish society is based on knowledge and expertise, as well as on research and high-quality education. These provide Finland with world-class technology and know-how in many fields such as energy, infrastructure, port logistics and ICT.

Our business delegation here of 10 top-notch Finnish companies represents these areas. You will hear more about their activities during this luncheon.

Our business delegation is eager to seek further opportunities for closer economic cooperation with Indonesia and laying the ground for new investments.  The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of sustainable, clean and renewable energy and energy efficiency later today is a prime example of our strong mutual ambition and willingness to engage such activities.

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As the saying in Bahasa Indonesia goes: “Malu bertanya, sesat di jalan” which roughly means “Asking questions is the only way to learn.” I hope that we all use this opportunity to learn and ask questions from one another. This will keep us on the road to success, learning how to pave it in the most efficient and mutually beneficial way.

I give my full and enthusiastic support to our future cooperation along this road what we have chosen to build together. I wish you all a very productive luncheon.