We are in the office of the Hon. Nana Yuliana, Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia. It is with mixed emotions. This lovely and gracious lady has been a hard-working welcome member of the Consular Corps, an excellent representative of Indonesia, as well as a strong supporter of the arts and culture here in Houston and the other 10 states plus two territories her office covered. I, personally, and iF Magazine have come to regard her as a friend. Her departure has come with a promotion to Ambassador for her country to Cuba and other Carribean countries in the area, Haiti, Jamaica, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.
Interview by: Heidi Powell-Prera
Heidi PP: I just heard that you had returned from Jakarta and Congratulations are in order.
Hon. Nana Yuliana: Thank you, Heidi. It is great to be back in Houston again. On the 26th of October, 2020, I was inaugurated by President Joko Widodo of Indonesia as Ambassador for Indonesia to Cuba, and also covering the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Haiti. I am happy that the Indonesian government trusts me with such a large area.
Heidi PP: That is exciting, and it is such a beautiful area. Are there many Indonesian citizens in the Caribbean?
Hon. Nana Yuliana: Well, considering the one in Houston where I cover 10 states plus two territories from New Mexico to Florida, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, we have around 20,893 Indonesians. In Cuba and the surrounding countries, not so many. We have less than 150 Indonesians. So, I can concentrate more on the relations with the Government and the people of Cuba and other jurisdictions on economic issues and diplomacy.
Heidi PP: Right like working to increase trade between Indonesia and those countries. With COVID 19 and everything, how has that impacted Indonesia?
Hon. Nana Yuliana: You see, Indonesia, like the U.S. and the rest of the World, has been severely impacted. As of November 2020, we have had 538,883 people infected with COVID19. As Indonesia is a developing country, it really hurt our economy. In 2019, Pres. Joko Widodo had announced moving the capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan. Because of the problems with COVID19, the transfer has been postponed . Up to now, we have had about 16,945 recorded deaths. We are really struggling with this covid.
Heidi PP: Because of the infection rate in Indonesia and other countries, what is the Protocol for travel to Indonesia?
Hon. Nana Yuliana: If you come to Jakarta, you have to bring a PCR or swab test negative result. At the airport your body temperature will be checked and you will be asked to have a self quarantine. If you do not bring a certificate of a PCR or Swab test negative, at the airport you will be given a PCR test and be quarantined at a place provided by the government for 14 days.
Heidi PP: The government provides a place for you to stay?
Hon. Nana Yuliana: Yes. But of course, there are so many people, and the facility is very limited.
Heidi PP: As for as economically, have they done a lot of shutting down in Indonesia?
Hon. Nana Yuliana: It is up and down, especially during March, April, and July particularly in the big cities such as Jakarta and Surabaya. In the past, if you went to Indonesia, the government used to provide a one month exemption visa. During covid, this visa has been postponed.
Heidi PP: For the rest of us, we will have to make plans for next year perhaps. With the Trump administration and COVID19, how has trade been going with Indonesia?
Hon. Nana Yuliana: The U.S. extended Indonesia’s Generalized System of Preference or GSP status in early November 2020 for Indonesian exports to the US. This was a concrete form of strategic partnership between the two countries. Export priorities from Indonesia to the U.S. among others are apparel, sportswear, rubber, and furniture. Also, we import goods from the United States. In the meantime, we encourage Indonesian business people to invest in the U. S. So the relationship has been mutually beneficial for both.
Heidi PP: It has been mutually beneficial. I am glad to hear that. I know I enjoy all the beautiful textiles. That is my favorite part.
Hon. Nana Yuliana: Thank you very much!
Heidi PP: You have been mainly in this area. What are your expectations of Texas with the business happening now?
Hon. Nana Yuliana: Texas, especially Houston, is very well known for oil and gas, the energy capital of the world. We have had very good cooperation with oil and gas companies. We have our investment in gas in Laredo, partnering with the company in Houston. The U. S. also invested in Papua province in the mining sector.
I am happy to say that Indonesian and U. S. investments are doing well. The cooperation with Texas in the energy sector is very strong. Businessmen are coming to Texas to talk about oil and gas energy; including solar energy.
Heidi PP: Is Indonesia interested in renewable energy?
Hon. Nana Yuliana: Yes! Actually, in 2019 the Consulate hosted a discussion on renewable energy inviting high officials from both countries. Indonesia relies a lot on coal. We export a lot of coal to China and other countries. But now, due to environmental concerns, Indonesia is trying to shift to renewable energy. Wind energy and solar panels are the options, but they are still expensive for Indonesia right now. The government is active now in doing a campaign to increase awareness and to save energy. We want to find alternative energy that is affordable for everyone and reduce dependency on coal.
Heidi PP: Yes. Also, Indonesia has to consider tourism. That is something we haven’t touched on yet. Indonesia is rich in tourism, right? In case anyone hasn’t looked, it is geographically a paradise.
Hon. Nana Yuliana: In 2021, I hope COVID19 will be gone, so that the economy in Indonesia, the United States, and the World will recover. During this year a lot of people have suffered. I am looking forward to a vaccine. I hope the vaccine will be affordable, and accessible for everyone, so the tourism sector will revive.
Heidi PP: Yes, I feel that, too, and I believe that most of the countries do wish to support the smaller economies in the World. I know you have done such great work here in Houston. I am certain you will do the same in your new appointment. Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me today.
Hon. Nana Yuliana: At this outset, I wish to thank the Indonesians and diaspora, the states’ governments in my jurisdiction and all the consular corps in Houston for the support and collaboration during my assignment. I will transfer to Havana in December. I especially extend my great thanks to Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston, the Asia Society, the Consular Corps, Greater Houston Partnership and World Affairs Council, and to you Heidi, for your help while I am here. I would like to invite you to visit me in Havana.
Heidi PP: We are going! It is not so far! We will miss you. But I congratulate you on your new appointment, and I know that everywhere you go, you will do a wonderful job.
Hon. Nana Yuliana: Thank you very much.
Heidi PP firstname.lastname@example.org (713) 456-9513