Preparing for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will be the biggest challenge for Indonesia’s new foreign minister, according to Nur Hassan Wirajuda who served as the country’s foreign minister between 2001 and 2009.
The AEC is set to come into effect at the end of 2015, and aims to transform Southeast Asia into a single economic community. Some of the benefits include a free flow of labor and capital, reduced barriers to trade, and more opportunities to invest throughout ASEAN. The new union will be similar to the EU in some ways, but without a shared currency.
“To make the ASEAN Community happen is not easy. However, the new Indonesian foreign minister has to make it become reality,” Hassan said in an interview with the Jakarta Post. He said that the new minister had to discuss the details of preparation with other foreign ministers in the region.
Hassan believes that as the largest economy in Southeast Asia, Indonesia has a unique leadership role and must provide a clear idea of what the AEC will be. “The new minister must also to ensure that other countries accept such ideas and concepts,” he said.
After the ASEAN Economic Community is implemented, the new minister must build relationships with countries throughout Southeast Asia to help facilitate business and investment. Hassan added that Indonesia has great potential because of its rising economic power.
“International acceptance is a big asset for Indonesia. [Some time ago] Indonesia did not have such an asset. Other countries will hear us. We can partner easily with many countries, ranging from northern countries, southern countries, developed countries and developing countries,” said Hassan.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo made Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi the new foreign minister this Monday. Retno was the ambassador to the Netherlands before her new role, and is Indonesia’s first female foreign minister.