GET TO KNOW SWISS STATE SECRETARIAT FOR ECONOMIC AFFAIRS (SECO)
SECO is the federal government`s centre of excellence for all core issues relating to economic and labour market policy. SECO works to contribute to sustained economic growth, high employment and fair working conditions.
Q : What is SECO and why is SECO operating in Indonesia?
A : SECO stands for the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. SECO provides grant funding for technical assistance and capacity building activities to its partner countries, including Indonesia (and Vietnam in Southeast Asia). Switzerland and Indonesia have been development partners since the 1970s when Switzerland launched its first projects and supported the establishment of the Politeknik Mekanik Swiss (POLMAN), as well as the National Hotel Institute in Bandung. Today, Switzerland continues its successful partnership with Indonesia through its Economic Cooperation and Development Program 2021-2024, which aims to spur inclusive economic growth and to reduce poverty.
Students at the Furniture and Wood Processing Polytechnic in Kendal (Skills for Competitiveness Project, S4C).
Q: What are SECO programs that are ongoing in Indonesia and what is the purpose of executing these programs in Indonesia?
A: Through its Cooperation Program with Indonesia, SECO funds more than 30 projects and works with 15 implementing partners and 10 Ministries, and covers topics such as dual vocational education and training (where we collaborate with SwissCham, see below), public financial management, sustainable value chains, in particular of export commodities (e.g. palm oil), sustainable tourism, access to finance and markets for SMEs, and sustainable urban development. These are all sectors in which Switzerland has a lot of expertise and where demand from Indonesia is highest. The total budget envelope amounts to 65 million Swiss francs for a four-year period. Through these 30+ projects, Switzerland’s Cooperation Program supports Indonesia in realizing its development potential.
Todo village in Manggarai Regency, Flores island (Sustainable Tourism Destination Development Project, SUSTOUR).
Q: How does SECO contribute to the achievement/mainstreaming of the Indonesia – EFTA CEPA?
A: There is no direct link between Switzerland’s Cooperation Program and the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). But through the Cooperation Program, Switzerland supports the implementation of the ‘Economic Cooperation and Capacity Building’ Annex to the CEPA with a focus on trade. It does so via several projects. For example, the Swiss Import Promotion Program (SIPPO) strengthens the export promotion capacities of Business Support Organizations in order to help SMEs access new markets. Moreover, SECO will launch a new program in early 2023 which will facilitate public-private collaboration and partnerships to promote sustainable commodity production practices and development of sustainable and inclusive value chains (palm oil, cocoa, coffee, etc.) to improve economic opportunities for farmers.
Smallholder oil palm farmers in Jambi (Green Commodities Program, GCP).
Q: What is SIPPO and how can it better assist Indonesian business entering the Swiss market?
A: Through SIPPO, Switzerland supports Indonesia in boosting its export performance. SIPPO works with BSOs to improve their export promotion services and market access knowledge. This in turn allows BSOs to provide more targeted and tailor-made services to companies (e.g. trade show participation, linking suppliers with buyers, etc.). For instance, in 2021, SIPPO together with another SECO-funded project called SMART-Fish, partnered with the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries to develop the first Indonesian Shrimp brand to create more visibility for Indonesia’s shrimp industry. This is only one example that shows how SIPPO helps Indonesian companies reach new markets.
Q: What are the examples of SECO-private sector collaboration, and why is this effective?
A: The private sector plays a vital role in development cooperation. Across all sectors, SECO works in partnership with a range of private sector partners – multinational corporations, banks, local businesses, and impact investors. A success story in this context is the collaboration between the Swiss-funded Skills for Competitiveness (S4C) Project and SwissCham. In 2021, S4C signed a Letter of Intent with five SwissCham member companies to boost vocational education in Indonesia and to improve the employability of fresh graduates by ensuring that the skills of students are in line with industry needs. Based on Switzerland’s successful dual vocational education and training system, creating a stronger partnership between the schools and the industry is one of the main objectives of the S4C Project. The experience of working with SwissCham has been very positive. Bühler, Endress+Hauser, Indesso, Koltiva, and SICPA have all accepted interns from S4C partner schools! We hope that many more Swiss companies will join this exciting program soon.
Students at the Metal Industry Polytechnic in Morowali (S4C Project).
Q: Having been in Indonesia for a while, what is your impression of the country and from a SECO lens, how do you think SECO – Indonesia-based partners can mutually benefit moving forward?
A: Indonesia has a lot of potential and the future looks bright. Not only is Indonesia endowed with extraordinary natural resources but it also has a huge working age population, which will reach 70 percent by 2030. To unleash Indonesia’s full potential, it will be important to further enhance trade and investment while at the same time maximizing human capital. These are all topics that are covered by SECO’s Economic Cooperation and Development Program with Indonesia and we trust that through partnership we can support Indonesia in becoming a more sustainable and competitive economy that benefits the people of Indonesia.