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Indonesia, Malaysia leaders pine for bit of Musk
Asean suitors in US for summit pitch EV maker for partnerships, investment, technology
Tom King 18 May 2022

The leaders of Malaysia and Indonesia both have invited the world’s richest man, the seemingly ubiquitous Elon Musk – chief executive of Tesla, founder of Space X and potential new Twitter owner – to invest in their countries in the space of a few days.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) met with Musk at one of the Space X facilities when he visited the company’s rocket production facility in Boca Chica, Texas. During his visit, Jokowi called on Musk to visit Southeast Asia, inviting him to Indonesia to attend the 2022 G20 Bali summit in November.

The Texas visit, Jokowi says, was a follow-up with Musk to discuss possible investment in Indonesian technology and innovation, and future cooperation. "He is really interested in coming to Indonesia.”

Musk will visit Indonesia in November 2022, according to Antara, the country’s national news agency. "Indonesia has great potential and positive energy, and we, through Tesla and Space X, will try to collaborate with Indonesia," Musk notes, adding that the country’s large and growing population is one of the most important potential attractions to him.

Partner wanted

Indonesia, as the world’s largest producer of nickel, has been looking for partners to expedite the efficient development of its nickel production to supply batteries for electric vehicles (EVs).

The Indonesian government sees Tesla, the world’s leading EV maker, as a potential ally to invest in the country and support the development of its ambitious goals in the EV and battery industries. Representatives from the Indonesian government and the US-headquartered firm have been in discussions for more than three years on the matter.

Not to be outdone, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has suggested to Tesla that it  should look instead to Malaysia, citing his country’s established car manufacturing industry and knowledge as the ideal Southeast Asian hub for investment and centre to produce Tesla models for sale in the region.

The PM has also appealed to other US Fortune 500 companies to invest or increase their investment in Malaysia, specifically in its digital, green technology and EV sectors, presenting the  country as a preferred investment destination on his recent visit to Washington.

Both Jokowi and Yaakob were in the US to attend the Asean-US Special Summit that will celebrate four and a half decades of Asean-US dialogue relations. Due to the disruption caused by the pandemic, the meeting was the first in-person engagement for the leaders since 2017.

The Indonesian and Malaysian leaders, along with their Association of Southeast Nations (Asean) counterparts met, with US President Joe Biden to discuss cooperation in a number of areas, including economic engagement, climate change, sustainable development, maritime cooperation, Covid-19 and global health security.

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