Saturday, July 29, 2023

Uh Oh: "Indonesia blindsided by Musk snub on Tesla plant "

Elon better get this right. Maybe, if the Indonesian government actually gets going on the project to shift the capital to Borneo Mr. Musk could be something of an employment anchor, but whatever he does he should make amends to Indonesia.

A deep dive from Asia Times, July 29:

Widodo had courted the billionaire but Malaysia snagged the deal after Jakarta blocked social media outlet ‘X’ 

JAKARTA – Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Investment Coordinating Minister Luhut Panjaitan is seeking a meeting with Elon Musk after the multibillionaire carmaker left him with egg all over his face by spurning Indonesia and choosing Malaysia for his Southeast Asian headquarters. 

Panjaitan had made the world’s richest man an irresistible target of the Indonesian government’s efforts to attract heavyweight investors to a country on the way to a major expansion into nickel-based batteries and electric vehicles (EVs).

But the talks went quiet in the latter part of 2022 and Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s announcement that Musk’s Tesla auto company was establishing a regional office and service center in Selangor, the state surrounding Kuala Lumpur, took the Indonesians by surprise.

Malaysia sweetened the pot by allowing Tesla to import its latest Model 3 and Model Y models, whose launch contributed to the firm raising its EV production to 441,000 units in the first quarter of this year, an 86% increase over the same period in 2022.

Anwar apparently revealed nothing when Panjaitan accompanied President Joko Widodo on a visit to Kuala Lumpur in early June which focused mainly on border issues and the welfare of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia.

Sources close to Panjaitan said he only had an inkling of Musk’s move several days before the announcement, but that did little to diminish his annoyance at being blindsided.

Only days later, Indonesia’s Ministry of Communication and Informatics blocked Musk’s X, the social-media site previously known as Twitter, because it did not yet conform with the country’s strict laws against pornography, gambling and other online infractions.

Analysts sense a possible payback. Indonesia has 24 million Twitter users, the fifth-highest in the world after the United States (95.4 million), Japan (67.5 million), India (27.3 million) and Brazil (24.3 million).

Musk is clearly looking at Malaysia as a potentially fast-growing retail market, which may not preclude him from looking at Indonesia as a growing future source of EV batteries or other components derived from the processing of its rich sources of nickel, cobalt and copper.

Malaysia head of car industry game
Malaysia has long had a mature auto industry. Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Volvo, Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz already operate in Selangor and the government recently launched a Battery Electric Vehicle Global Leaders initiative to attract EV makers, which Musk termed “forward looking.”....

....MUCH MORE   

Look, it's the center of the world. Plus: Orangutans!

Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore on the left, Borneo island shared between Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia and Jakarta on Java to the southwest.