Padang-Ba Ria Vung Tau “Sisterhood”: The Study of Paradiplomacy


The trend of diplomacy continues to change from time to time. If diplomacy was previously carried out by involving relations between one country and another, it is now expanding its scope by involving local entities. The term paradiplomacy helps to describe foreign relations between local governments. The phenomenon of paradiplomacy that initially appeared in Europe continues to develop in various countries, including Indonesia (Mukti, 2015). With the enactment of the Minister of Home Affairs Regulation No. 25 of 2020 concerning procedures for regional cooperation abroad and regional cooperation with foreign institutions, as well as the Indonesian regional government system, which has the right to autonomy, it is possible to carry out cross-border cooperation.


Various sister city collaborations have been established in Indonesia as a form of Indonesian paradiplomacy. Padang is one of the cities that practices paradiplomacy with Ba Ria Vung Tau, Vietnam. Padang City is the provincial capital of West Sumatra, Indonesia. Padang’s geographical characteristics as a coastal city and the cultural diversity of Minangkabau make it a promising potential in fisheries, tourism and culture. Another case is Ba Ria Vung Tau, a province in the south of Vietnam. It has a capital city, Vung Tau, a coastal area nicknamed a port city because it is 18 km from the South China Sea. Ba Ria Vung Tau has advantages in marine development and tourism. Ba Ria Vung Tau consists of two principal cities: Ba Ria is the political and administrative centre of the province, while Vung Tau is the economic and cultural centre. From an economic perspective, it focuses on the port industry, trade, investment and tourism (ITTPA Ba Ria-Vung Tau, 2022).  Even though they have different identities, where Padang is a city with Islamic nuances while Ba Ria Vung Tau is a socialist area and the majority population is Buddhist, cooperation can still be achieved because it focuses on geographical similarities.


The sister city between Padang and Ba Ria Vung Tau was initiated in 2013. Meanwhile, the MoU was signed on May 31 2016. The sister city cooperation, valid for five years, includes cooperation in fisheries, agriculture, education, tourism and culture. The Memorandum of Understanding is categorized as a non-legally binding contract treaty when reviewing the legalization aspect. This is seen from the three elements of legalization: bonds, precision, and relatively low delegation.

If viewed from the elements that make up an international agreement, out of 17 elements, the MoU of the sister cities of Padang and Ba Ria Vung Tau already includes nine elements. In contrast, the elements not included are the preamble, definitions, objectives, forms of cooperation, executing agency, implementation, confidentiality, amendment, and testimonials. Apart from that, during the five years this collaboration has been running, several implementations have been carried out. Of the four areas focused on by the two cities, only three sectors were successfully implemented: agriculture, education, tourism and culture. Padang sent farmer representatives to conduct training and knowledge transfer in the agricultural sector at Ba Ria Vung Tau, Vietnam. In the field of education, the Padang city government visited educational institutions in Vietnam and conducted reviews and cooperation regarding the education systems of the two cities. One form of cooperation that was carried out was a meeting between Padang State University and Ba Ria Vung Tau University in 2019  (UNP, 2019). As for the tourism and culture sector, the two cities initiated tourism activities and held traditional Vietnamese music performances in Padang in 2018. These activities show a practical implementation, namely in terms of tourism and culture, where the appearance of traditional Vietnamese music can introduce Vietnamese culture to the people of Padang. Meanwhile, from an agricultural perspective, sending Padang farmers trained in Vietnam to show how to do organic farming (Isnarti & Trisni, 2020).


From the various implementations of the two cities, Sister City Padang-Ba Ria Vung Tau should be a springboard for Indonesia to discuss the issue of IUU fishing, which does not have a legal framework either bilaterally or regionally. The problem of IUU fishing is not new to Indonesia and the Southeast Asian region. With Indonesia’s geographical type consisting of archipelago areas, the problem of IUU fishing is vulnerable. Likewise, Vietnam is a country bordering Indonesia, where cases of IUU fishing are often carried out by Vietnamese fishermen caught in Indonesian waters.

               The formation of the sister city partnership Padang-Ba Ria Vung Tau can be the initial foothold for establishing bilateral cooperation between Indonesia and Vietnam in eradicating IUU fishing between the two countries. Even though Padang is not directly adjacent to Vietnam, Ba Ria Vung Tau, active in the fisheries sector, can help Padang further develop its fisheries and marine potential by carrying out activities that transfer knowledge. Along with the Padang-Ba Ria Vung Tau sister city, the Indonesian government, through the foreign ministry, is also aggressively approaching the Vietnamese government. This can be seen from the bilateral meeting between Indonesia and Vietnam at the 2018 IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings, which discussed investment, automotive exports, pharmaceuticals, economic communications, implementation of IUU fishing laws, and Indo-Pacific cooperation in the ASEAN region (Asmara, 2018). In addition, both parties have continued efforts by signing an MoU between Indonesia and Vietnam in December 2022, which discussed cooperation in the fisheries sector and eradicating IUU fishing (BPMI Setpres, 2022).


               Even though the Padang and Ba Ria Vung Tau MoU ended in 2021, it does not rule out the possibility of extending this sister city cooperation. This can be seen from the meeting held by the Governor of West Sumatra, Mahyeldi Ansharullah, with the Indonesian Ambassador to Vietnam, Denny Abdi, at the Governor’s Palace in June 2022 (Hendra, 2022). This meeting discussed international cooperation in the form of sister provinces that they wanted to do. This collaboration is motivated by the geographical similarity of the two regions, which have great potential in the fisheries sector. Besides that, it also includes the potential in agriculture, plantation, forestry, education, tourism, and culture. Cooperation in the fisheries sector includes sharing experience regarding packaging technology, fishery products, processing and preservation. Thus, the sister city collaboration between Padang and Ba Ria Vung Tau can become a stepping stone that expands the scope of cooperation at the provincial level. In addition, cooperation must be further strengthened in the fisheries and industrial sectors because this is the two regions’ main potential, so other aspects can be considered after the main aspects are appropriately implemented.

Izzatinnisa is a post graduate Student of International Relations , Gadjah Mada University She is an awardee of LPDP 2022 by Ministry of Finance of Republic of Indonesia . She has interest of some topic such as global political economy, conflict of midle east region, and politic of global south. She can be contacted at email: izzatinnisa[at]


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