Indonesia’s Jokowi meets Tesla’s Musk after talks about nickel

Indonesian President Joko Widodo met Tesla Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk in Texas on Saturday to discuss potential investments and technology, the Indonesian government said in a statement.

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The meeting between Musk and Widodo, better known as Jokowi, came after a round of work-level discussions about a possible investment in Indonesia’s nickel industry and the supply of batteries for electric vehicles, Indonesian officials told Reuters.

Tesla representatives were in Indonesia last week for meetings about a possible battery-related investment, Indonesian officials and two people familiar with the talks have said.

Tesla did not immediately comment.

Indonesia has been trying for years to strike a deal with Tesla over battery investments and possibly for Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company.

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 will host a summit of the Group of 20 Major Economies in Bali in November. “Hopefully in November,” the Indonesian government quoted Musk as saying.

Musk said there could be room for “partnerships in many things because Indonesia has a lot of potential,” the statement said.

Indonesia has the world’s largest nickel reserves and Jokowi is keen to develop a nickel-based EV industry at home – from making nickel metal to producing battery components and assembling electric vehicles. In the past, he has also urged Musk to consider a missile launch site in Indonesia.

Two deals in the past month have given new impetus to Jokowi’s drive to develop an EV-related industry at a time when global automakers are struggling to secure supplies of battery materials and reduce their reliance on China.

A consortium led by South Korea’s LG Energy Solution Ltd, the world’s No. 2 maker of EV batteries, announced plans last month to invest $9 billion in Indonesia as part of a deal that would cover everything from nickel refining to producing battery cells in Indonesia.

LG’s bigger rival, China-based Tesla supplier Contemporary Amperex Technology, announced a $9 billion Indonesian investment in April.

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