Damco, the logistics arm of the world’s largest container shipping company Maersk Line, is considering to invest in a cold storage facility in Indonesia should the government follow through with its plan to open the business to foreigners and map out a clearer plan on its ambition to become a global maritime hub, according to a top executive at Maersk Line Indonesia. Jakob Friis Sorensen, president director of Maersk Line Indonesia, the local unit of Copenhagen-based Maersk, said that the sister company “might look at cold storage,” backed by bullish expectations of President government’s maritime ambitions. Still, he noted that the government’s vision, which was first pledged during RI presidential campaign, remains vague and needs more fine-tuning in terms of planning. “Otherwise, some of the partners or customers of Maersk Line might [open a cold storage facility] as it’s adjacent to the fishing industry,” he told. Damco’s local unit in Indonesia has four container freight station facility as of August 2013 and five commercial offices by July 2014, mostly catering to the industrial manufacturing, oil and gas, mining and retail sectors. Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board, or BKPM, recently announced that the government may allow foreign companies to wholly-own a cold storage facility in Indonesia as part of its ongoing revisions to the country’s investment guidelines. Foreigners may soon be able to own up to 67 percent in transport supporting services, such as maritime cargo handling and ground handling, according to the transport ministry. The revisions, which are part of the government’s greater plan to attract more foreign business, have so far passed through on a ministerial level, with the first part of the revision expected to roll out in the next few days.
Pushing the Bitung Port Project
Maersk, which has been operating in Indonesia since 1928, was among the first companies to bet on the government’s maritime mission by opening a direct international route to the eastern port of Bitung, North Sulawesi, from Tanjung Pelepas, Malaysia, in 2014. Later in October 2015, Maersk signed an agreement with the government to help them in improving cargo flows in the Bitung port, which is planned to be among Indonesia’s strategic ports with a special economic zone. Sorensen said that the company is budgeting approximately $500,000 in the pilot project, which is hoped to open the company’s path for future investment in the world’s largest archipelago. The two-year project has been on track as he recently completed meetings with the mayor of Bitung as well as officials from the Ministry of National Development and Planning (Bappenas), he added. “It’s because of the government’s maritime vision that we have focused on Bitung and we want to try and have a little experiment here,” Sorensen said. “The whole key is that once we can prove things are working, we want to replicate together with the government to other ports.”