What makes the Indonesia-Australia Business Council (IABC) unique compared to other chambers of commerce in the country? "The IABC is the only chamber in Jakarta with a membership that is quite equal (in number) between Australians and Indonesians. It is 45 percent Indonesians, 45 percent Australians and 10 percent other nationalities," IABC president Noke Kiroyan told The Jakarta Post.
Most chambers usually have single nationality membership and are representing their organization in their respective countries. Whereas IABC is a single entity formed in 1989 when Auscham, the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Jakarta, was merged with the Indonesia-Australia Companies Cooperation Council (DKSPIA).
"Therefore we have a more plural organization," said Noke, who is also a non-executive chairman of Australian-based giant mining firm Rio Tinto in Indonesia. According to IABC executive director Vic Halim, the chamber's pluralism has attracted other nationalities to join due to the breadth of the network.
"We have the widest networking as a chamber in Jakarta," Vic said at IABC's secretariat on the 11th floor of the World Trade Center on Jend. Sudirman Kav. 29-31, in Central Jakarta. He added that an IABC's members gathering lured 250 participants on average per event, while the last one in July attracted 340 businessmen.
IABC has some 300 members - both companies and individuals - in Jakarta, while the organization's representative offices in Semarang in Central Java and Surabaya in East Java have some 120 members, Vic said. Among the members are mining firms Rio Tinto, Adaro and BHP; construction firms Leighton, Petrosea, Theiss; manufacturing companies BlueScope Steel, wooden structural component maker Corinthian; ANZ Panin Bank and Bank Commonwealth.
The IABC has the mission to enhance bilateral business links and foster friendship between the respective business communities; to communicate investment and business opportunities in the two countries and to provide a forum to accommodate all types of business. As well as serving as a lobby group to further the business interests of its members it serves as a consultative body to government, industrial sectors and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and is building a nationwide organization by establishing branches in major cities throughout the country.
Members receive information via the IABC Newsletter and via regular national magazines or newsletters advertising local activities as well as through its website www.iabc.or.id. Some of the grouping's most popular events are the IABC luncheons held regularly at the Mercantile Athletic Club at which a guest speaker is usually the highlight of the meeting.
A major function the organization hosts is the Annual Business Conference held alternately in Australia and Indonesia, with each conference featuring senior government ministers of both countries and several hundred businesspeople. Moreover, IABC has a sister organization in the Australia Indonesia Business Council (AIBC) based in Melbourne. Both organizations complement each other in building bilateral business relationships for their respective members.