Maurice Williamson is leading a 52-strong trade mission to Indonesia. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Maurice Williamson is leading a 52-strong trade mission to Indonesia. Photo / Mark Mitchell
A 52-strong trade mission is flying to Indonesia this weekend for two weeks of intensive briefings and meetings.
It is being led by Maurice Williamson and Sir Ken Stevens, who's chairman of Export New Zealand.
Representatives of the food and beverage, education, geothermal and banking sectors are going, along with a large group from the aviation industry.
Sir Ken says there's huge potential for aviation in the Indonesian market.
"We're following on in the footsteps of the Prime Minister just about 12 months ago so this is well considered by the Indonesians and well targeted by our people so we're looking to do some good business up there."
Sir Ken says the mission presents a viable and formidable force to increase trade.
- Newstalk ZB

Apart from the times when New Zealand had issues over  Borneo (Kalimantan) and East Timor (and more recent protests by some in NZ over the treatment of indigenous Irian Jaya people) the relationship between NZ and Indonesia has been strong. We have had links in the geothermal, educational, finance and a growing trade sector. This makes so much sense as Indonesia is a close neighbour. We both stand to gain and this weekend's announcement that a large team of officials and sector area representatives are heading to Indonesia for two weeks of discussion must be seen as a growing trend.  At times NZ will have to take a back step when it comers to those issues that still cause some discontent in NZ, mush like we have swallowed our sensitivities as per the China trade. The economic relationship between New Zealand and Indonesia makes sense also in that it is never good to have all of our eggs in one basket, that is with China. That situation has come about as NZ turns its back on the UK and   the Euro/USA market. Whilst our trade remains strong with those nations, it must aid our overall economic performance by 'spreading the risk' as it were. 
There will be hooks in our developing relationship, but those can be worked through. Indonesia is an emerging giant on the world scene and it is making real gains on issues that concerned us as evidenced by the sad events in Bangladesh. Indonesia has a large and growing middle-class and it is that group that will drive the moves to improve the lot of those less fortunate. In the past Indonesia has had some of the lowest paid workers in Asia, but that too is changing as the 'trickle down' trend has taken hold. By no means would NZ workers agree to the conditions as they exists in Indonesia now, but there is a gradual improvement in the treatment of Indonesian workers. Politically the Indonesians have become more stable and investment has flowed into the country. It makes sense that NZ is part of this, but on a two-way scale. Indonesians have also invested in NZ.  Underlying this burgeoning relationship is the fear of 'fundamentalist Islamists,' and how the Indonesian Government grapples with this very real fear. That is of course an issue that the people and Government of Indonesia  have to work out for themselves. After all, they have several centuries of colonialism to recover from and the journey towards a modern nation is one that still has a way to go. We need only to look back into our own history and acknowledge that before we become too critical of our huge friendly near-neighbour. Lets hope that the upcoming 'talks' are beneficial to both nations.