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Infrastructure Unlocks Papua’s Potential to Become an International Trade Route


By : Rebecca Marian )*

The government is very committed to developing Cendrawasih Earth through infrastructure. With infrastructure projects, it will open Papua’s potential to become an international trade route. Papua’s position is very strategic to smooth business lines with countries in the Pacific region and other countries around the world.

Papua Bangkit Stadium and Youtefa Bridge stand majestically in Papua, and were built during the reign of President Jokowi. During his reign, development in Papua was carried out so rapidly, especially in the infrastructure sector. The community appreciates the acceleration of infrastructure development in Papua, especially the Trans Papua Road which stretches for 4,600 kilometers.

In addition to infrastructure in the form of roads and bridges, Papua has also built infrastructure in the form of a maritime highway. The existence of this toll road is very useful for unlocking the potential of the Cendrawasih Earth region to become an international trade route. 

Papuan youth leader Salwa Zalianty stated that Papua has enormous potential to become an international trade route because of its very strategic position. However, many factors have prevented Papua from being fully optimized as an international trade route in the Pacific region. The Pacific region is considered as a potential area for Indonesian trade purposes.

Salwa continued, the value of Indonesia’s trade with the Pacific region is considered to be still not as big as Indonesia’s trade with other regions, such as Indonesia and ASEAN trade cooperation. Indonesia must establish diplomatic relations with countries in the Pacific region to increase eastern Indonesia’s international trade partners.

In that sense, the Pacific region has the potential to be a business partner. International trade does not mean having to trade with distant countries like America, Germany and others. However, Pacific countries such as Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, are also potential business destinations.

The geographical position of Papua is within the strategic line of the Indonesian Archipelagic Sea Lanes (ALKI) based on the provisions of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS). Papua is directly adjacent to the Maluku Sea, Banda Sea and Arafuru Sea which are considered very strategic for Indonesia’s international trade potential to the New Zealand region. Baru and Australia via the Arafuru water route.

To expedite trade routes with Pacific countries, the government created a sea highway in Papua. Since 2015, maritime highways have been built in Indonesia, at the initiative of President Jokowi. This toll road connects 1 port with other ports, including in Papua and other eastern parts of Indonesia.

The sea highway is a unique highway, because it is above the sea. The construction of this toll road is carried out by the government, because its existence is very much needed by the community. Apart from being useful for the people of Papua, the maritime highway also opens up Papua’s potential to become an international trade route.

With the sea highway, it will make business lines with countries in the Pacific region smoother. Delivery of various goods such as coffee, sago, and others will be faster. Trade relations with Australia and other countries will improve.

After the sea highway is finished, the agricultural sector in Papua will also improve. People in Cendrawasih Earth are no longer confused about marketing their garden produce, because they can export it to New Zealand and send it via the sea highway. 

In addition to its strategic location as an international trade route, Papua also has a wealth of potential natural resources that can be exported to the Pacific and Asian regions such as natural gas, oil, gold, copper, rubber and wood. Papua’s fisheries sector also has great potential, Papua has natural conditions that support fish farming. Papua fishery products can be exported to international markets. 

With infrastructure in the form of a sea highway, Papuans will be more prosperous. Farmers, fishermen and businesses in the mining sector will find it easier to export agricultural products and other natural resources through the sea highway.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi stated that Indonesia had signed a joint statement regarding the launch of preferential trade negotiations with Fiji and Papua New Guinea. In addition, there is also a memorandum of understanding regarding business with countries in the South Pacific region.

With the agreement and memorandum of understanding, it will strengthen trade relations and reduce barriers to cooperation and investment with countries in the South Pacific region. In addition, there is ongoing cooperation between Indonesia and them.

There are many challenges that must be overcome by Papua to become an international trade route, including increasing accessibility and connectivity, increasing security, developing human resources, and protecting the environment. With proper handling, Papua can function as an important international trade route for Indonesia.

Infrastructure development in the form of a sea highway will open up Papua’s potential to become an international trade route. Natural products on Cendrawasih Land have the potential to be exported to Fiji, Australia and other countries in the Pacific region. With the sea highway, it will launch exports and make the Papuan people more prosperous.

)* The author is a Papuan student living in Jakarta

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