Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Can Indonesia Save the Bay?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 4, 2007 at 12:14 PM

The Eureka Reporter seems to think so. In today's paper, they give front-page coverage to a meeting that took place yesterday between Deddy Saiful Hadi, head of Chancery/Consul for Economics with the Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia, and the City of Eureka.

According to the report, the meeting was a success. Hadi, unprompted, said "Eureka is a 'leading' Northern California city 'in a very strategic location, being on the bay.'"

He then added that the "ports in Los Angeles and also in Oakland are near capacity, so although Humboldt Bay’s port is small by comparison, it is in a pivotal position."

Pivotal position? Hurrah! Humboldt Bay is saved!

But wait, I thought it was China the Bay was looking to for salvation. Is Indonesia really in a position to pull the region out of its economic doldrums?

Once again, the Reporter seems to think the answer is yes.

But a Sept. 2006 article in the Economist paints a less optimistic picture of Indonesia. When that article was written, some 39m Indonesians, 18% of the population of 220m, were officially poor. That number was up 4m from the year before. (In China, on the other hand, the poverty rate is steadily decreasing.)

Government officials admit their target, a poverty level of 8.2% by 2009, is anyway unattainable. The current economic growth rate of around 5% is insufficient to provide all new job-seekers with employment, let alone dent Indonesia's huge unemployment tally. Ministers did announce earlier this month an extra $1.4 billion for poverty alleviation in 2007, 18% up on 2006.

For many Indonesians, according to the article, "the future remains pretty bleak."

Hadi, it seems, forgot to mention this at yesterday's meeting, but his Economic Affairs Vice Consul Khasan Ashari, did tell participants that "My country is one of the biggest producers of pearls."

Pearls? No matter how many Indonesia produces, one thing is for sure, that industry won't ever increase cargo ship traffic in the Bay.

UPDATE: Indonesia is also the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. For more info check out the U.S. Department of Energy's LNG page and this 2003 article from the Asia Times.

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Japhet Weeks

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