Indonesia’s Jokowi meets Musk Tesla after nickel talks

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo met Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Saturday in Texas to discuss potential investments and technology, the Indonesian government said in a statement.

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

Indonesian officials and two people familiar with the talks said representatives from Tesla were in Indonesia last week for meetings about a potential investment related to the batteries.

Tesla had no immediate comment.

Indonesia has been trying for years to get a deal with Tesla on investing in batteries and possibly Musk’s SpaceX.

Jokowi traveled from Washington, where he attended a meeting of leaders of 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.

Jokowi is scheduled to host the G20 summit of major economies in Bali in November. “Hopefully in November,” Musk was quoted by the Indonesian government as saying.

There may be room for “partnerships on a lot of things, because Indonesia has a lot of potential,” Musk said, according to the statement.

Indonesia has the world’s largest nickel reserves, and Jokowi is keen to develop an in-house nickel-based electric vehicle industry – from manufacturing nickel metal to producing battery components and assembling electric vehicles. In the past, Musk has also urged the consideration of establishing a missile launch site in Indonesia.

Two deals over the past month have given Jokowi a new impetus to develop an electric-vehicle-related industry at a time when global automakers are scrambling to secure supplies of battery materials and reduce their dependence on China.

A consortium led by South Korea’s LG Energy Solution Ltd, the world’s number two EV battery maker, announced plans last month to invest $9 billion in Indonesia as part of a deal that includes everything from nickel refining to battery cell production in Indonesia.

Contemporary China-based Amperex Technology, a supplier to Tesla, LG’s biggest competitor, announced a $9 billion investment in Indonesia in April.

(Reporting by Stanley Widianto in Jakarta; Additional reporting by Ed Davies, Norihiko Shiroso, Gavin Maguire and Francesca Nanjoy; Writing by Kevin Krulicki; Editing by William Mallard)

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