Indonesia aims to produce 70 per cent of its medical supplies domestically as COVID-19 has served as a timely reminder that it is important to be self-reliant, said Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan.

Speaking during a business webinar on Tuesday (Aug 25), Mr Pandjaitan said that self-reliance is especially needed when it comes to medical supplies and food security.

However, Indonesia is still dependent on other countries in both sectors, he said.

“Indonesia is not aware that 90 per cent of its pharmaceuticals are basically imported. We are (now) focused on preparing the pharmaceutical industry in Indonesia.

“We target that 70 per cent of the medical supplies to be fulfilled (produced) in Indonesia,” the minister said.

At the early stages of the pandemic, Indonesia suffered from a lack of medical equipment and had to import personal protective equipment (PPE).

In June, President Joko Widodo said that Indonesia is able to produce 17 million units of PPE per month, exceeding the 5 million units required by the nation monthly.

A team of Indonesian engineers has reportedly succeeded in producing a compact ventilator to sell at a fraction of the usual cost. 

Enhancing Food Security

Apart from aiming to manufacture medical products locally, Mr Pandjaitan also pointed out that Indonesia must be self-reliant in producing food.

Southeast Asia’s biggest economy is currently establishing two food estates in the archipelago by converting land into paddy fields.

The food estate in Central Kalimantan province is 1 million ha and the other one in North Sumatra province is 30,000-40,000ha.

“Basically, these are also to ensure that we can be self-reliant if something happens globally,” Mr Pandjaitan added on Tuesday.

The minister also took the opportunity to encourage the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote sustainable economic development, protect natural resources, prevent the exploitation of resources, support investment in downstream industries, and encourage countries to become part of the global supply chain through the use of environment-friendly green technology.

In order to restore trust in multilateralism and global trade at this time, ASEAN must be committed to avoid export restrictions on essential goods, such as medical equipment and, in particular, food products, Mr Pandjaitan stated.

As of Wednesday, Indonesia reported 160,165 COVID-19 cases and 6,944 deaths.