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Indonesia’s Jokowi meets Tesla’s Musk after nickel talks

JAKARTA (CNA) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo met Tesla chief executive Elon Musk on Saturday in Texas to discuss potential investments and technology, Indonesia’s government said in a statement.

The meeting between Musk and Widodo, better known as Jokowi, came after a round of working-level discussions on a potential investment in Indonesia’s nickel industry and supply of batteries for electric vehicles, Indonesian officials told Reuters.

Representatives from Tesla were in Indonesia last week for meetings regarding a potential battery-related investment, Indonesian officials and two people familiar with the talks have said. Tesla had no immediate comment.

Indonesia for years has been trying to secure a deal with Tesla on battery investment and potentially for Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company.

Jokowi travelled from Washington, where he attended a meeting of leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to meet Musk at the SpaceX launch site in Boca Chica, Texas. He invited the billionaire to visit Indonesia in November.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo speaks during the US- Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Special Summit, in Washington DC on May 12. PHOTO: AFP

Jokowi is to host a summit of the Group of 20 big economies in Bali in November.

“Hopefully in November,” the Indonesian government quoted Musk as saying.

Musk said there could be room for “partnerships in many things, because Indonesia has a lot of potential,” the statement said.

Indonesia has the world’s biggest nickel reserves, and Jokowi is keen to develop a nickel-based EV industry at home – from making nickel metal, to producing battery components and assembling electric vehicles. In the past, he has also urged Musk to consider a rocket launch site in Indonesia.

Two deals over the past month have given new momentum to Jokowi’s push to develop an EV-related industry at a time when global automakers have been scrambling to secure supplies of battery materials and reduce their reliance on China.

A consortium led by South Korea’s LG Energy Solution, the global No 2 maker of EV batteries, announced plans last month to invest USD9 billion in Indonesia as part of a deal that would include everything from nickel refining to producing battery cells in Indonesia.

LG’s larger rival, China-based Con-temporary Amperex Technology, a Tesla supplier, announced a USD9 billion Indonesia investment in April.