Foreign Insight: The French Connection

(Business Lounge Journal – Foreign Insight)

There is a French products are already present on the Indonesian market but we could be more ambitious to export more in this field and the as far the an Indonesian export are concerned you are quite competitive in the textile and shoes industry and I think you can also probably make further breakthrough on the French market.

On this episode of FOREIGN INSIGHT, Business Lounge Journal interviewed H. E Jean-Charles Berthonnet, Ambassador of France to Indonesia. We’ll talk about diplomacy, perception, way of life, and how French art influences ours.

BL: Business Lounge Journal
JB: Jean-Charles Berthonnet

BL: As you know and all know that bilateral relationship between France and Indonesia has been held maintain for 68 years right now. This longstanding relationship and we have little to more resistance from both governments, I would say that we have quiet good relationship for quite some time. How do you see this connection prospect towards its seven decades period and beyond?

JB: Well I would like to start from the state visit of President François Hollande who took place on March last year. It was a very important visit, the first state visit from a French president since 1986, president François Mitterrand. And those visits are very important because they give strong impulse to bilateral relations in every field and that’s precisely what I am here for, to stimulate, to do my best to strengthen the bilateral relations between Indonesia and France in various fields, of course first of all in the economic field but also I would mention cultural, education, security, tourism, so that there is a lot, there is a big potential to develop bilateral relations, and it’s true that these relations have been established a long time ago, should you mentioned 68 years.

BL: How do the France businessman perceive of the Indonesia economic potentials in general?

JB: It’s clear that this potential is huge. You have a very sustained economic growth for several years now, this last year it’s around, it’s more than 5 percent, you represent between 35 and 40 percent of the GDP of Asean, and there is a lot of needs especially in the infrastructure transportation.

BL: So, we have there is an increase in trading value recorded in both countries on 2016-2017, precisely it was from US$2,235 million to US$2,365 million. Could you please tell us what are the reasons of this indicator increase?

JB: Well, as far as French exports are concerned it is clear that the aircraft industry represents the bulk of our exports to Indonesia. We are selling, and by we I mean the member states of the Airbus Consortium where we are selling a lot of Airbus aircrafts of smaller ATR aircrafts to Indonesia air companies. And this is reflected in the view years that you have just mentioned. But we would like to increase over other type of export especially in the food industry, in the luxury boats, I think there is a French products are already present on the Indonesian market but we could be more ambitious to export more in this field and the as far the an Indonesian export are concerned you are quite competitive in the textile and shoes industry and I think you can also probably make further breakthrough on the French market.

I notice that very recently a painting by Raden Saleh was discovered in French, in Britannia and was auctioned to Indonesian collectioner to at scale growing price of 8 million Euros, and Raden Saleh was in friend by Delacroix. So this a clear illustration of the fact that there are always been interaction between French and Indonesian culture.

BL: So France is a home of a great artist. The French reciprocal affinity toward arts and finer things were indubitably unparalleled, something doesn’t need a lengthy debate. Great person such as Gustave Dore or Eugené Delacroix, great artist, great poets, painters. They have a graced France with all the arts and architecture that have made Paris and France famous. But with the encroaching modern lifestyle that demand a fast past way of living, globalism, and perhaps consumerism, especially in the modern city of Paris, how do the modern French man and women today can keep attuned with their artistic side amidst the wave of today’s way of life.

JB: Well you mention French painter Delacroix, yeah I notice that very recently a painting by Raden Saleh was discovered in French, in Bretagne and was auctioned to Indonesian collectioner to at scale growing price of 8 million Euros, and Raden Saleh inspired by Delacroix. So this a clear illustration of the fact that there are always been interaction between French and Indonesian culture. And this will remains so in the future, I really think so. As far the impact of the new way of life of the globalization of the year digital economy is concerned, I think it’s–, we all, we have to recon ciliate, we have to reconcile the fastness of the information flux. And the fact that still we would be able to take our time to visit an exhibition or to enjoy tasty food in a restaurant, you should not be too dependent of the very fastness of the information flux. We should not be rushed, we are smartphone everywhere to do as many thing as possible in the day. We have to take benefit of the fact that we have access toward information maybe 1.000 times more than 20 years ago. But make sure that this information in order to enjoy the possibility that are offer by our society, our culture in the peaceful way. Once again for the French, sense is very important in French. So despite the smartphone and despite everything, people tends to continue spend one and half hour in the restaurant talking with friends, with families. I think we have to preserve that. That’s the best way to enjoy the benefit of globalization and digitalization. But not being involved by all these technologies and information.

BL: I agree with that. So what does it mean to be a French?

JB: Well I would say, you know, we–, I think your motto is very important. Unity and diversity but we have our own motto, which is not far more than the Indonesian one by the way, it’s liberté, éternité, and fraternité. And this values are very important, they are eternal. We really want to protect them. But the fact that they are eternal does not mean that they are not threatened. I would say that nowadays you have action or tourist attack or political movement that would like to see less tolerance towards those minorities. It’s true in French, it’s true in some extend also in Indonesia. That I think it’s very important that authority of those country are struggling against this threat of seeing more intolerance, more radical movements taking the part attention in the political debate. So I think that’s–, so you have this eternal long time values but the daily basis you have to be very aware that there is a daily fight that we have to lead together. And I think these move vocal portion between French and Indonesia in this field to see these values, especially the tolerance being protected in those countries.

So despite the smartphone and despite everything, people tends to continue spend one and half hour in the restaurant talking with friends, with families. I think we have to preserve that. That’s the best way to enjoy the benefit of globalization and digitalization. But not being involved by all these technologies and information.

BL: How did French people see Indonesia in general?

JB: I think the French people that live here very positively impressed by the diversity of the Indonesia, the diversity of ethnics, population of religions, of languages. And the fact that since the independence we managed to stay together despite this diversity and sometime can be a challenge, can be threatened the national unity, and despite all the difficulties and crisis from time to time, you always managed to protect this diversity. So I think it’s very important characteristic of Indonesia. And the fact the people are very open, welcoming to the foreigners, it’s also important quality of Indonesian people. That’s why the French citizen who went to Indonesia to-, as an expatriate, French are tend to stay for many years. Sometime they do not even to return to French, by the way. So it’s clear that we are quite happy. Plus despite the difficulties I have just mention, but I’m still convinced that Indonesian people, Indonesian leadership will find the way to face the threat I have just mention.

I think the most important things nowadays is to protect your motto, unity in diversity, to protect the peaceful interaction that is to enforced to fight against any discrimination against any type of minority. I think this is very typical now in the political debate in Indonesia. And I’m sure that despite the difficulties, despite the fact that you will have regional and presidentship election, you will find the way to preserve the value that I’ve just mention.

Michael Judah Sumbayak adalah pengajar di Vibiz LearningCenter (VbLC) untuk entrepreneurship dan branding. Seorang penggemar jas dan kopi hitam. Follow instagram nya di @michaeljudahsumbek

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