Sunday, May 2, 2010

Indonesia takes to the stage in Shanghai Expo

The Komodo dragon, the Borobudur temple and traditional food are among the features showcased at the Indonesian pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo that was officially opened here Saturday.
Indonesia’s participation in the five-yearly world expo is its second after New York in 1964. This time the country engaged in “a massive PR event”, a minister said, to show how it has moved away from decades of autocratic rule, becoming a beacon of democracy and emerging as one of the most resilient economies in Asia.
“The Expo is looking to draw 70 million visitors so it provides a great opportunity for Indonesia to boost its branding,” Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu, who also chaired Indonesia’s executive committee for the expo, said.
Mari said that in line with the expo theme of “Better City, Better Life”, Indonesia defined “better life” as harmony among different ethnic groups with their innate cultural heritage, while constantly moving forward in democracy and modernity.
“We are showcasing our democracy and the progress that we have made in political, economic and
cultural aspects in the past years,” she added.
The 2,400-square-meter pavilion incorporates a tropical contemporary concept dominated by bamboo material. Architect Budi Lim said he did not want to be trapped in a box building.
“Instead, I want to highlight the tradition of openness in Indonesia,” he said.
The Indonesian pavilion — one of 45 other countries in the World Expo 2010 Shanghai China information center — is divided into three zones: the bio zone featuring the country’s abundant natural resources, the diverse zone showcasing equipment used by traditional society in agriculture, and the city section including food and beverages.
Organizers hope to have 70 million guests visiting the pavilions of 192 participating countries and 50 international organizations. The Indonesian government expects the six-month expo to net Rp 1 trillion (US$110.8 million) in transactions from multiplying effects in tourism, trade and investment.
Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa said in his opening speech that Indonesia’s participation in the expo served as a means of promotion for trade, tourism and investment, as well as showcasing Indonesia’s role in the world.
“Through this expo, we should be able to change the paradigm that Indonesia is just a market,” he said.
Among Indonesia’s main objectives in the expo, he said, was improving bilateral trade relations with China, which was $25.5 billion last year. Hatta hoped that bilateral trade could reach $50 billion by 2014. China is currently Indonesia’s third-largest export destination.

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