Indonesia and Switzerland have had diplomatic relations since 1951. Indonesia is a priority country for economic cooperation with the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Meanwhile, Switzerland is one of the largest European investors in Indonesia. Since 2008, Indonesia has become one of the eight priority countries for economic development cooperation from SECO. The volume of trade between the two countries continues to increase until 2020, reaching CHF 3.1 billion. Switzerland is the first country to enter into the first free economic partnership agreement with European countries. Through this collaboration, Switzerland has provided a lot of assistance to Indonesia, such as when COVID-19 occurred. Switzerland provided assistance with oxygen concentrators and personal protective equipment, which are very much needed by hospitals in Indonesia.
Switzerland had fostered the development of human resources in Indonesia well before the COVID-19 outbreak. Since 1973, Indonesia and Switzerland have collaborated to create vocational schools through the Swiss Mechanical Polytechnic School. The Swiss government provides expertise and other facilities to support human resources in Indonesia. Vocational training, education, and financial management are priority areas at SECO.
In addition, Switzerland also supports the development of transportation in Indonesia. Through SECO, Switzerland’s development of transportation infrastructure is a special focus of the SECO collaboration program for the 2021–2024 period. The INDOBUS project, supported by Switzerland, promotes the use of high-speed public bus services in Indonesian cities such as Bandung, Batam, Makassar, Pekanbaru, and Semarang.
Switzerland also supports urban development and the provision of infrastructure because good cities have great potential to advance the economy, reduce poverty, and reduce greenhouse gases. Therefore, to achieve sustainable and climate-friendly urban areas, planning and managing urban space must be done in an integrated manner because urban areas are the poles of economic growth and innovation.
Switzerland is a country that promotes sustainable environmental issues, so it continues to support Indonesia in committing to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals. However, Switzerland realizes that Indonesia is still struggling with complex economic, social, and environmental problems, as well as environmental pollution, exploitation of natural resources, and increasing income inequality. Indonesia is a country that still shows the gap between rich and poor, with many women trapped in poverty. Therefore, Switzerland continues to support Indonesia’s domestic development.
In addition, Indonesia and Switzerland have reached an agreement on the productivity of new and renewable energy. The relationship between Indonesia and Switzerland arose from the two countries’ aim to strengthen their contribution to the global renewable energy transition. Indonesia has promised to increasing renewable energy by 23% by 2025 and 31% by 2050, whereas Switzerland has planned to reduce fossil fuel consumption by 20% by 2020. Switzerland promotes the concepts of sustainable development in the agricultural sector, which is the world’s most important issue, particularly in European countries. Palm oil and its processed products are among these difficulties. The IE-CEPA allows for tariff reductions on Indonesian palm oil. Indonesia is encouraged by IE-CEPA to strengthen the sustainability standards and practices outlined in Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO).
Through IE-CEPA, Indonesia obtained the elimination of 7,042 tariff posts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, 6,338 tariff posts in Norway, and 8,100 tariff posts in Iceland. Therefore, in light of the problem of Indonesian palm oil being rejected in the European market because it is considered not environmentally friendly, Switzerland has chosen to continue IE-CEPA to encourage sustainable Indonesian palm oil.
Indonesia and Switzerland also cooperate in the field of the export and import of palm oil. Indonesia and Switzerland have a commitment to maintaining sustainable palm oil. Through IE-CEPA, Switzerland has decided to maintain comprehensive economic cooperation with Indonesia in strengthening the principles of sustainable palm oil production. Trade between Indonesia and Switzerland has had a positive impact on Indonesian oil palm plantations. Based on the referendum, 51.7% of the votes of the Swiss people agreed that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between Indonesia and the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) could be continued. The Indonesia-Switzerland free trade agreement provides positive news for the Indonesian CPO. In addition, the Indonesia-Switzerland collaboration will encourage the branding of Indonesian palm oil products, which are considered to be of a global standard.
The Indonesia-Switzerland cooperative relationship always has a positive impact on both countries. The Indonesia-Switzerland trade always experiences a surplus. There are 10 main Indonesian export commodities to Switzerland, including precious metals, jewelry (HS71), footwear, non-knitted textile products, knitted textile products, electrical equipment, furniture, essential oils, turbine engines, and organic chemicals.
Switzerland’s cooperation and development assistance apply not only to Indonesia but worldwide. Switzerland’s international cooperation is driven by a vision of a world without poverty and peace for sustainable development. Switzerland’s international cooperation for 2021–2024 establishes four goals: (1) economic development; (2) climate change and the environment; (3) human development; and (4) peace and government. These four points also apply to Indonesia-Switzerland cooperation. Indonesia-Switzerland cooperation relations are concentrated a lot on economic growth in order to reduce poverty in Indonesia, as well as climate change and the environment, because Switzerland believes that climate change can exacerbate extreme poverty and hunger. Therefore, Switzerland encourages the management of oil palm in Indonesia to be more sustainable to ensure that economic activities do not exacerbate climate change due to a damaged environment.
Severe environmental changes and climate change will cause natural disasters, rising sea levels, and extreme droughts. In addition to environmental and economic issues, Indonesia’s cooperation also encourages human development, one of which is ensuring education and health services are important for reducing forced migration and ensuring gender-sensitive based development.
Seeing that Indonesia’s cooperation is very strong both in the economic and trade sectors, climate change, poverty alleviation, and so on Does Switzerland have an interest in Indonesia? According to Hans J. Morghentau, national interest is the main pillar supporting a country’s foreign policy and international politics. The national interest of every country is the pursuit of power, which is anything that can establish and maintain control of a country over other countries. But the context of Switzerland’s assistance to Indonesia shows positive cooperation with positive national interests that encourage Indonesia’s domestic development.