Can Indonesia Help MIKTA Thrive?

As Indonesia takes over leadership of the middle power grouping, it faces both opportunities and challenges.

Can Indonesia Help MIKTA Thrive?

The 10th MIKTA Foreign Ministers Meeting, held in September 2017 in New York.

Credit: MIKTA

Turkey handed over the leadership of MIKTA – the “middle power” grouping of Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey, and Australia, founded in September 2013 — to Indonesia on December 13, 2017.  What is Indonesia’s agenda for its leadership term in MIKTA? How will Indonesia incorporate its national development goals into the common agenda of MIKTA and play its role in supporting global governance amid the uncertainty of international relations? And what are potentials and challenges of MIKTA as a whole?

I argue that Indonesia generally focuses on peace and security in the world and promoting the creative economy, which may support development in all MIKTA countries. Indonesia views MIKTA as an innovative platform for a mutual partnership between MIKTA member states and also external partners in the political, economic, and sociocultural sectors. Indonesia will seek to strategically connect political and economic interests between developed and developing countries within MIKTA and externally in order to shape and maintain fairer global governance.

Indonesia hopes MIKTA can deal with its own challenges as a cooperation platform that contributes to responding to the challenges and uncertainty of international relations at the regional and global levels. Those challenges include the diversity of political and economic interests within MIKTA’s member states and defining a minimum contribution from middle powers for shaping global governance, since each member state finds itself in a different geographical situation and faces its own unique challenges.

Indonesia’s Leadership in MIKTA

Indonesia and the other MIKTA member states may mutually reinforce one another to support economic development and participate in the reformation of global governance in various ways. First, Indonesia may seek to convince MIKTA member states to support Indonesia’s candidacy for nonpermanent membership in the UN Security Council from 2019 to 2020. At the global level, Indonesia may be a strategic connector for political and economic interests between developed and developing countries in order to promote more equal and fair global governance.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

At the regional level, Indonesia’s presence within MIKTA may expand a regional network linking ASEAN and other MIKTA countries, which could contribute to an evolving regional architecture in the Asia-Pacific region and the Indian Ocean (Indo-Pacific region). This situation is strengthening inter-regional ties between ASEAN and the regions where other MIKTA countries are located (e.g the Mediterranean, the Americas, and Oceania). Such cooperation may support ASEAN’s regional integration.

Second, Indonesia may pursue its economic diplomacy within MIKTA. Indonesia could strengthen its bilateral economic partnerships with Mexico, South Korea, Turkey, and Australia through both increase trade and goods and the creative economy. Indonesia can seize opportunities in MIKTA countries and promote its products to other regions where fellows MIKTA member states are located.

Third, Indonesia will push forward the involvement of nonstate actors in MIKTA and may seek to increase mutual connections among nonstate actors within MIKTA countries. In 2015, MIKTA organized the MIKTA Academic Network Conference and MIKTA Young Professional Camp in Seoul, South Korea. Indonesia may incorporate the business community and nongovernmental organizations from MIKTA member states into MIKTA’s annual meeting in order to increase public participation and public ownership in the partnership between MIKTA member states.

Fourth, MIKTA may help support Indonesia’s goal to be a world maritime fulcrum. Indonesia may invite Mexican, South Korean, Turkish, and Australian investors to participate in infrastructure development and logistical support in Indonesia.

MIKTA’s Potentials and Challenges 

MIKTA has special value for its member states. First, MIKTA’s institutional framework is flexible, being based on consultative policy developments and consensus-based policy making. Second, MIKTA membership spans the globe, providing a basis for cross regional interactions between North America, Asia, Oceania, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. Third, MIKTA gives another framework of cooperation distinct from currently existing bilateral, regional, and multilateral frameworks in the global governance architecture.

MIKTA has demographic and economic potential. The combined population of MIKTA members is estimated at 500 million people. MIKTA’s combined GDP is $5.8 trillion; all five member states rank among the 20 largest economies in the world.  It is a huge market with millions of middle-classes consumers and vendors. In terms of global governance, MIKTA member states already play a role as middle powers in the UN, World Trade Organization, the G-20, the International Monetary Fund, and so on, and can help promote a fair global political and economic order. Each member is also active in contributing to regional development.

But MIKTA also faces several challenges. First, every member state of MIKTA has its own political and economic interests. This creates competition and fragmentation within their relationship. In order to respond this challenge, MIKTA needs to develop an effective policymaking process and a flexible framework for managing differences and looking for compromises.

Second, MIKTA faces a challenge in concretely reducing global imbalances and shaping global governance based on its members’ capacity as middle powers. The big actors in the UN, the World Bank, and IMF have significant powers at those institutions. Consequently, MIKTA should be a smart player in positioning and playing its role as an initiator and agenda-setter for reforming these global institutions.

Third, the dispersed geographical location of MIKTA member states – while also providing opportunities, as discussed above — makes it more complex and difficult for MIKTA to maintain cooperation compared with regional entities. Consequently, MIKTA member states need to develop a feasible framework of implementation for their own areas of cooperation and also possible cooperation with non-MIKTA member states.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

Finally, MIKTA member states – along with the rest of the world – face the threat of a trade war in the wake of protectionist U.S. economic policies, such as import tariffs on steel and aluminum. The MIKTA members will have to figure out how to minimize the political and economic effects to their own domestic economies and pursue bilateral, regional, and multilateral cooperation in order to respond to the latest situation.

Beginda Pakpahan, Ph.D., is the author of Indonesia, ASEAN and the Uncertainty of International Relations, published by Kompas Book Publisher in 2018, from which this article was adapted. He is also a political and economic analyst on global affairs at UI.