Interview with Nana Yuliana, Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia
By: Charles Padgett
Indonesia is in a time of exponential growth, both economic and cultural. Leading the way as representative is Nana Yuliana, PhD, the Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia in Houston. Mrs. Yuliana and her all women home staff have been deemed the “Seven Wonder Women” because of the diligent, and passionate work they do. Indonesia is gearing up to host the Asian Games 2018, an event where 45 Asian countries come together in competition to promote unity and peace. Next year is also the national election for President and parliament, an exciting and wondrous time for a country that has seen such amazing economic expansion the past 10 years. The opportunity to interview Nana Yuliana gave me a new perspective on Indonesia and their potential.
Q: Can you tell us more about your background?
A: After graduating from University, I began as an educator teaching elementary school and then later in my career becoming a lecturer for a master degree program at a private university in Indonesia teaching diplomacy and ASEAN. Prior to my assignment as a Consul General, I was the Director for the Ministry of Foreign affairs’ Mid-career Diplomatic School. I have been working with Indonesian foreign affairs for the past twenty three years, starting in 1995. I was assigned to be the Second Secretary of Political Affairs at the Embassy of Indonesia in Manila, where I would go on to earn my Phd. After that, I worked at the Embassy of Indonesia in Bangkok, representing Indonesia for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission in Asia Pacific (UNESCAP) and bilateral economic cooperation with Thailand . Since last September 2017, I have been able to represent Indonesia here in Houston as the Consul General, covering a jurisdiction that stretches from New Mexico to Florida, also including Puerto Rico and The U.S. Virgin Islands.
Q: What can you tell me about your past assignments?
A: Every place has its own uniqueness about it. In Manila, I was part of monitoring team of the implementation of the Peace Agreement signed in 1996 between the Government of the Philippines and the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front). In Bangkok I was working directly with the United Nations and the dynamic was focused on multilateral relationships with many countries, rather than my experiences in Manila and now in Houston, that is about the bilateral relationship between Indonesia and the United States.
Q: With what kind of mindset do you approach your duties as Consul General?
A: The strategy that I approach the relations is made up of three pillars which I call it as 3P approach. First, being Promotion of TTI (Trade, Tourism and Investment). Second, is People to people connectivity, sharing to the people of the United States about our culture and way of life. Lastly is Protecting Indonesian citizens, offering our support and services to help their efforts to live in the United States. I am very proud of Indonesia’s progressive economy. With our trade surplus with the United States being around 18.8%, investment in Indonesian enterprises has increased 71.5% from 2016 and tourism from the United States has increased 13.11% in 2017. We work very closely with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, especially in areas under our jurisdiction to find new investment opportunities and strengthen existing ones. Last week we joined the Dallas Travel Show and also Sea Trade in Miami to promote marine tourism.
Q: What is the dynamic of Indonesians living in the United States?
A: Under our jurisdiction we have around 20,000 Indonesian citizens and an even larger number of Indonesian Americans that we assist with our services. The top three areas with the largest groupings of Indonesian population isTexas, Atlanta, and Florida. Our Houston site is the largest office in the United States out of the five that are established here. Our other consul general offices are located in New York, LA, Chicago, and San Francisco. And our embassy, of course being located in the Capital. Being as that our facility is so large, we host many events such as the annual meeting for the Consular Corps, as well as coordinating events with the Office of Foreign Ministry. We hold an Indonesian culinary festival every year in November, where we have 40 to 50 booths. We can even accommodate about one hundred cars for parking. Holding events like this bring the Indonesian community together but also creates a direct connection with other communities.
Q: What are some future goals for the remainder of your assignment in Houston?
A: We want more U.S. citizens know about Indonesia. Usually people only identify Indonesia with Bali as a tourist destination, so we are starting to reach out to Universities and schools to bring awareness to the public about Indonesian development and culture. Our population is about 269 million people, having the 4th biggest population in the world. Our export products range from Agricultural products, oil, apparel, and many more like mining and cocoa, coffee and tea. Houston is a strategic position, being the energy capital of the United States. We both export and import oil, as increased trade with the United States has solidified our country’s energy security even more. Recently our investments in the United States has grown as Indonesia also invested in gas located in Laredo, Texas.
Nana Yuliana’s expertise and successful results come from a combination of experience, support from her hardworking staff, and genuine passion for her country’s growth. Houston is a more than perfect home for international cultures and in tapping into that community, they have enlightened so many in the process. Going forward, Indonesia looks to the future with ambitious and eager eyes, ready to become a formidable trade center in not just Asia, but the rest of the world too.