December 2, 2022

Interview: Shinta Kamdani, B20 Chair

Last week, Noah Berman caught up with Shinta Kamdani, the chair of B20 Indonesia, a summit that connects global business leaders with their diplomatic counterparts ahead of the G20 summit. The annual B20 conference will take place from November 13-14 in Bali. 

NB: What key themes are you focusing on this year?  

SK: There are three. First [is] prioritizing innovation to unlock post-crisis growth. We can really see innovation [through] technology play a very big role. 

Second is pushing to empower SMEs and vulnerable groups. Indonesia is an emerging economy and we want to drive some of the agenda, looking into how SMEs play a big part in the global economy. They need a lot of support, and this is something B20 wants to play more of a role in. 

Third is supporting increasing collaboration within developing countries’ business. The development gap remains a fact in this global economy. Such a gap in industrial sophistication, capital generation capability and distribution of enabling infrastructure across countries is detrimental to our efficiency and effectiveness. 

NB: Are the challenges facing businesses worldwide more acute in an emerging market like Indonesia?

SK: Increased inflation, rising energy and food costs really impact many countries, including Indonesia. But while Indonesia has been quite lucky—our economic growth has been quite good despite the global crisis situation—we know that next year definitely the storm is coming heavily. Each country has its own set of challenges—some more than others—but it remains a global challenge in terms of rising inflation, food crises, energy crises. Those are aspects businesses need to be aware of and find solutions for.

NB: Since the onset of thepandemic, we’ve seen some nations draw back from globalization. Where do we go from here?

SK: We understand now with the global crisis there are some regressions in globalization, but…we have to get back to having the balance again. 

We have to have that interdependency with other businesses from different countries. This is the interesting part of having a multilateral platform like this. You start opening your eyes again to see actually there are many opportunities ahead.

NB: Does globalization—or de-globalization—hurt the developing world?

SK: We want to develop our own manufacturing but we also need the technology, we need the cooperation aspect, with businesses from other countries. The trend for more developed countries to take back their manufacturing obviously will hit developing countries, but this is not about developing vs developed countries. This is the trend where every country will start prioritizing how their own industry can be developed, how we can be less dependent on others.

We need to think about how we can develop our industry and yet be part of globalization.

NB: This year, Indonesia joined the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. How will that affect businesses there?

SK: The initiative involved ASEAN countries more on the government side, so businesses are not yet well informed on how it will impact them. We look forward to hearing more, to seeing how businesses can take advantage of policy that comes from the Indo Pacific.

NB: There is a lot of talk about how countries in Southeast Asia have to balance between economic interests in China and in the West. Do you feel this need for balancing in the Indonesian business community? Is this harmful or helpful to business?

SK: Businesses are commercially driven at the end of the day. They will see what’s the best interest for them, the best advantage they can be offered. The important element is we can’t be dependent on one country, on both the supply and the demand side. We need both the US and China, and many other countries. Businesses need to look at how to build their own resiliency, and anticipate the crisis that is coming. 

Even in a country like Indonesia, we cannot stay complacent. Our economic growth looks very good – but next year? The storm is coming, we’d better be ready.

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