Gelukkig nieuwjaar!! Welkom in Indonesië

Highlight on Trade and Investment: There is probably no better place in the world to study Indonesian culture, Indonesian languages and Indonesian history, than the Netherlands. Databases on Indonesian flora, fauna and geology in the Netherlands are also unique, and the world’s best Indonesian restaurants outside Indonesia are found in The Hague and Amsterdam, as Mr. Elmar Bouma – the Director of INA shares his long time exciting experiences working in Indonesia.

Typical Indonesian food products are found in even small villages in The Netherlands and an estimated seven percent of the people in the Netherlands have Indonesian blood.

There could be hardly a bigger contrast between the Netherlands and Indonesia, but the traces of the intricate relationship and centuries of colonial rule, are still visible everywhere in both countries today.

Like countless Dutch people, I have been intrigued by Indonesia from the days I learned about it in school and in the library of my village. And like so many of my high school friends, I saved my money to go backpacking through Indonesia when I still had loads of time. And like many young men, and not only young men, I fell for the charms of an Indonesian woman, Santi.

We lived in Holland for a few years, and I worked for the Confederation of Netherlands Industries.  Then we decided it was time to make my passion my work: to help renew the relationship between Indonesia and the Netherlands, especially in trade and investment.  I joined the Indonesian-Netherlands Association (INA).

INA was established in 1978 for this purpose. Since then, it has been growing into one of the largest international Chambers of Commerce in Indonesia. It now also helps companies from other countries that do not have their own Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia. Indonesia is a huge country and fast growing economy, which may be in the world’s top ten if the current trends continue (

It is however also still not an easy country to do business, with complicated and changing regulations, pervasive bureaucracy and enormous local differences. INA helps foreign companies to sail around these many cliffs and has over the decades developed a range of services that allows companies to fully focus on their core business.

INA arranges investment approvals and a wide range of other business permits. INA also manages the administration and monthly tax reporting for a number of companies. INA also gives companies advice on legal matters, especially company law, investment law and labour law, and on all taxes that companies need to deal with. Companies in all sectors and of all sizes make use of the support of INA, from small and medium-sized companies to multinationals.

INA however also wants to assist Indonesian companies to export to Europe, and to innovate and become more competitive. INA has established the HortiChainCenter ( with which it trains farmers, and helps them to get certification and sell directly to supermarkets and exporters. The HortiChainCenter has for instance helped farmers of cinnamon, mangosteen and medicinal herbs to get with quality management systems and certification of their production.

They are now able to export directly to Europe, and get much more income from their hard work. But also farmers growing tomatoes, chilis and palm sugar have had a lot of benefit from the support of the HortiChainCenter.

This support often no only involves hand-on field training, but also help in making farmers’ co-operatives better organized and giving them better access to bank financing.

INA also works on sustainability issues in Indonesia. Sustainability of the use of natural resources, saving energy and water and helping workers and communities to prosper should be part of every company’s strategy. The interesting thing is that a strategy with sustainability has also been proven to make those companies more successful. INA gives a lot of advice on how this can be done effectively in Indonesia. INA is also one of the founders of the National Center for Sustainability Reporting (NCSR), which helps companies to make a sustainability report of all their activities. More than 40 of Indonesia’s largest companies now make a sustainability report in accordance with the guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative.

With all of these activities and services, INA has helped around five thousand companies to do business in Indonesia and in Europe over the years, and I have every intention of growing this number much further. The market growth is there, and we have the people, the expertise and the networks in place to remain one of the leading business support organizations  in Indonesia.

In the spare time that remains, I will continue to travel around the country, which even after 15 years I have still far from fully discovered, and I will capture the countless memories in paintings. (bs/p5/01Jan2013)

Mr. Elmar Bouma
Indonesian-Netherlands Association (INA)
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