Yoon, Indonesian president agree to strengthen security, economic partnership

September 8, 2023

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Indonesian President Joko Widodo agreed Friday to strengthen their countries’ security and economic partnership, including by boosting cooperation in arms and electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure.

The two leaders reached the agreement during a summit at the presidential palace in Jakarta, which came on the last day of Yoon’s four-day visit to Indonesia to attend annual summits involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Indonesia.

Yoon and Widodo noted the need to strengthen the bilateral special strategic partnership, including through collaboration between the Korea-ASEAN Solidarity Initiative, which centers on enhancing strategic cooperation among South Korea and the 10 ASEAN member states, and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, which revolves around the cooperation principles of ASEAN centrality, inclusivity, openness and transparency.

In particular, the two agreed to further strengthen arms cooperation and reaffirmed their commitment to successfully completing a joint project to develop KF-21 fighter jets.

Indonesia is the biggest buyer of South Korean arms among ASEAN members, with their total valued at $4.3 billion. The country was also the first nation to import South Korean KT-1 and T-50 aircraft and is the only country so far to have imported a South Korean submarine.

The two leaders agreed to continue to expand trade and investment based on their countries’ Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which took effect in January, build up Indonesia’s EV and battery industry, and facilitate increased exports of South Korean halal food to Indonesia.

Bilateral trade amounted to US$26 billion last year, the fourth-largest sum among ASEAN states, while South Korean investment in Indonesia reached an accumulated $22.7 billion last year, the third-largest sum among the bloc’s members.

The two sides committed to enhancing cooperation in building infrastructure, such as carbon-neutral purification plants, water and sewage systems, and tunnels, in line with the planned relocation of Indonesia’s capital city to the East Kalimantan province by 2045.

Also, Yoon and Widodo agreed to strengthen the institutional framework to support South Korean businesses in Indonesia, such as by protecting their key technologies, and to increase people-to-people exchanges through the launch of a new Korean language institute in Indonesia next year and additional government-sponsored scholarship programs, as well as university student exchange programs.

The leaders committed to boosting cooperation on regional and international issues as they agreed on the need for a firm and united response from the international community to North Korea’s nuclear provocations and threats.

South Korea also sought Indonesia’s support for its bid to host the 2030 World Expo in the southeastern city of Busan.