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Indonesia-Taiwan relations in 2023: Year in Review

12 Jan 2024
By Dr. Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat and Yeta Purnama
Indonesian Migrant workers in Taiwan. 2018. Source: Lennon Ying-Dah Wong /

2023 revealed a quiet but booming relationship between Taiwan and Indonesia, and 2024 looks to be similarly robust. More educational exchanges, more technology collaboration projects, and more Indonesian migrant workers in Taiwan are planned.

In 2023, Indonesia-Taiwan relations witnessed a notable upswing. The year has been marked by increased collaboration in trade and commerce, reflecting a strengthened economic partnership between the two nations, as well as diplomatic dialogues. As in previous years, educational exchanges have continued to play a significant role in the ties between the two, alongside the issue of migrant workers.

2023 also demonstrated that the future of Indonesia-Taiwan relations holds potential for further strengthening and diversification across various domains. Economic ties are likely to continue growing, with sustained dialogues and mutual support on regional and global issues to be anticipated.

Along this frame of mutual exchange educational opportunities are expected to persist, promoting cultural understanding and people-to-people connections. The commitment to addressing challenges related to migrant workers may also lead to continued cooperation in ensuring the welfare and protection of Indonesian migrant workers.

Innovative collaborations, as seen in the startup sector and in technological advancements, may open up new opportunities for both nations. Increased partnerships in areas such as agriculture, tourism, and renewable energy could further contribute to a more diversified and resilient relationship.

While the future landscape of Indonesia-Taiwan relations will undoubtedly face challenges, the shared interests and collaborative initiatives each share suggests a positive trajectory characterized by sustained cooperation and mutual benefit.

Economic relations

In early 2023, as tensions rose in the Taiwan Strait, Indonesia focused on creating an emergency plan due to the presence of 350,000 Indonesian citizens in Taiwan, as well as to face the economic impact expected from Taiwan’s restricted waters and airspace.

Economically, Indonesia maintained its position as Taiwan’s 13th largest trade partner, with a trade volume exceeding US$14 billion (2022). Plans were in place to renew a bilateral investment agreement. However, starting in May, Taiwan imposed anti-dumping charges on float glass from Malaysian, Indonesian, and Thai suppliers, citing unfair pricing practices.

Despite these challenges, 2023 witnessed several investment agreements between Indonesia and Taiwan. Companies like Protechma Indonesia and Taiwan’s Aeroprobing Inc. collaborated on drone technology for agricultural use. Kampuh Welding Indonesia and Taiwan’s CSBC Corporation aimed to address Taiwan’s labor shortfall by hiring Indonesian experts for the shipbuilding industry. Agreements were also signed in the food industry, combining Taiwan’s technological capabilities with Indonesia’s local resources.

In October, Taiwan invested US$900 million across a number of industries, including nickel mining, fisheries, carbon trading, and projects supporting the development of the Indonesian Capital City (IKN). A new area of cooperation emerged in the startup sector, with organisations from both countries organising exchange programs and startup gatherings. The potential for increased investment exists, especially as Indonesian provinces like East Java explore collaboration with Taiwan in agro-business and tourism sectors.

Migrant Workers

The issue of workers continued to feature significantly in Indonesia-Taiwan relations in 2023 and is likely to continue into 2024. According to statistics released by the Ministry of Labour, as of June 2023, there were about 259,558 Indonesian workers – around 35 percent of the 739,496 migrant workers – in the country. This makes Taiwan the top destination for Indonesian migrant workers globally.

In August, Taiwan announced that it would bring in more Indonesian migrant workers to work in the agriculture and livestock farming sector.

To complement this, Indonesia and Taiwan agreed to simplify application procedures for Indonesian workers, including those who return to Indonesia, to apply for intermediate skilled positions with no maximum limitation on work years. In addition, agreements were also signed to address a number of issues with the brokerage system that exposed migrant workers to multiple hidden fees


Several events were also organised in 2023 which helped fortify the relationship between Jakarta and Taipei. The most crucial one was the sixth Indonesia-Taiwan Industrial Collaboration Forum that was held in October in Bogor, Indonesia. The event discussed cooperation on energy transition, the food sector, shipbuilding, and digital industry.

In the same month, both countries held the 6th Indonesia-Taiwan Steel Dialogue to strengthen cooperation on the development of green steel industry. Another crucial event was the Taiwan Trade Mission, organised to facilitate meetings between Indonesian and Taiwanese businesses. Meanwhile, a third event included an Indonesia-Taiwan Building Material Buyers Networking event aimed at increasing the export of Indonesia’s infrastructure materials to Taiwan by facilitating meetings between Indonesian business actors and Taiwanese buyers in the sector.

Education exchange

As in previous years, education continued to be a crucial segment of Indonesia-Taiwan relations in 2023. One interesting activity was the first online exchange program between Madrasah Mu’allimin Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta and Taipei Municipal Chengyuan High School in November. Moreover, under the umbrella of the Asian Medical Students’ Exchange Program (AMSEP), Universitas Padjajaran hosted medical students from Taiwan to participate in a one-week exchange program.

Educational exchanges between Indonesia and Taiwan are not one-way. In 2023 for instance, lecturers from Universitas Nahdlatul Ulama Surabaya visited Taiwan to provide solutions to increase awareness of Indonesian migrant workers about nutrition and working safety. On a similar topic, Radio Taiwan International collaborated with one Indonesian media team, IDN Times, to organise a workshop on stress management for Indonesian workers in Taiwan.

Educational exhibitions also continued to be organised in 2023 to attract more Indonesian students to study in Taiwan. One example was the 2023 Indonesia Taiwan Higher Education Exhibition that was held in Jakarta, Pekanbaru, and Medan. Additionally, Taiwan Higher Education Fair was organised in March in Surabaya, Yogyakarta, and Jakarta, as well as a “Scholarship Seminar: Study & Internship in Taiwan in 2023” at President University.

Taiwanese institutions continued to offer scholarships for Indonesian students across 2023, with Tzu Chi University of Science and Technology announcing its Indonesia Entrepreneur Scholarship program. Hsing Wu University, alongside Cheng Siu University, also started to offer a “New Academia Industry Program Taiwan” scholarship for Indonesian vocational graduates.

With such activities, it is unsurprising the number of Indonesian students in Taiwan has increased in recent years. Taiwan is now listed by the Indonesian Ministry of Education and Culture as a recommended place for study overseas for publicly funded students.

Beyond education, the flow of tourists also continued, reaching 150,000 Indonesian tourists in 2023 alone. This number may increase this year, especially as Taiwan is working to secure a visa waiver from Indonesia.

It will be interesting to see how the ties between Indonesia and Taiwan develop in 2024, especially as the two states are to hold presidential elections. Indonesia’s election is set for February 14, while Taiwan’s is scheduled for January 13. These elections are important not only for the future of the countries, but also for the future relationship between Indonesia and Taiwan.

By Muhammad Zulfikar Rakhmat and Yeta Purnama. The authors are researchers at Center of Economic and Law Studies in Jakarta.

This article is published under a Creative Commons Licence and may be republished with attribution.