Indonesian Nickel Trick

There's big elections across Indonesia this week. As a place I've spent extended time, you always worry. Democracy, as true freedom knows it, feels flimsy. If it even exists at all. Yet the incumbent is at least leaving office after the two-term constraint suggests. Never a given historically. And according to columnist Roger Boyes on London's The Times on outgoing President Widodo, known as Jokowi;

"He has made a good fist of it: the economy is growing fast, poverty rates are down, infrastructure projects are giving the country a modern sheen".

So who knows. But what grabbed me was this piece of adroit politicking;

"His foreign policy, a form of non-alignment between the US and China, was conducted nimbly.
China is Indonesia’s top trading partner but Jokowi managed to leverage the relationship to his country’s advantage.
Its most valuable natural resource is nickel, essential in the energy transition and for China’s ambitions to be the leading producer of electric vehicles.
Jokowi started off by banning raw nickel exports in 2014.
China understood that if it wanted a slice of Indonesia’s nickel it would have to plough money into processing the metal in Indonesia.
Result: Indonesia has become the world’s largest processed nickel exporter, 70 per cent of which goes to China."

It's not often a so-called 'partner' gets one up on China's ruling jackboots.

Here all seemingly done without falling into Xi's evil debt trap, governance capture and enforced anti-West throttling.

It struck me how this is such a lesson for anyone of us selling to a much larger 'client'. One who, whether consciously or not, throws their weight around. Paying only lip-service at best to concepts of collaboration, growth through co-operation and genuine win-win mentality.

There's a fair few analogies to be drawn.

You might have a relatively 'new' venture. And there'll similarly be a way you can get your early, keenest adopters to help fund aspects of development, deployment or delivery.

You might depend upon high customer commitment for long-term success once bought. And there'll similarly be a way you can glean explicit resource from your potential client upfront.

You might worry about ceding control to the larger organisation. And there'll similarly be a way in which you can create the hidden boundaries which leave you wriggle room that could be handy later, with implicit recognition they don't have exclusive demand on you.

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