H. E. Airlangga Hartarto, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Republic of Indonesia, gave an RSIS Distinguished Public Lecture on “Indonesia, Singapore, ASEAN and the New Asian Landscape”, a lecture that was held at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, on 29 August 2022.
Mr Airlangga discussed Indonesia’s efforts to develop digital and green economy initiatives in the first part of the lecture. Indonesia is committed to the Paris Agreement and is determined to reduce the country’s emissions through energy diversification and energy conservation. Implementation of Minimum Energy Performance policies and growing the Electric Vehicle programme are two examples of the country’s on-going policy initiatives to reduce energy consumption.
He went on to highlight emerging geopolitical conflicts such as the Ukraine-Russia crisis in the second session, and noted they are causing the price of food and energy commodities to surge. Mr Airlangga noted that as a result of this crisis, food security has become a critical issue. He believes the rise in food prices has triggered concerns over food security and ASEAN countries, with more than 660 million mouths to feed, will be heavily impacted by this.
In addition, Mr Airlangga stated that the pandemic offers a chance for ASEAN countries to reset and rethink domestic reforms that can help address income inequality among ASEAN citizens. Education and labour policies can be implemented to help lower-wage workers upskill themselves, so that they can find jobs in high-value industries that have expanded rapidly with technological growth.
Amid intensifying geopolitical tension and contestation, it is times like these when the importance of ASEAN economic integration comes to the fore. When external demand factors cannot be relied upon to drive growth, he stated that it is imperative to turn inwards and look for ways to further enhance existing trade ties within the bloc. Doing so will allow for a more resilient ASEAN economy capable of withstanding global economic headwinds.