Indonesia’s Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, met Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk in Texas to negotiate possible nickel funding and technology sharing prospects, the Indonesian government said on Sunday.
The meeting between Jokowi and Musk came after a round of talks related to a potential funding for the nickel industry in Indonesia and supply of batteries for electric vehicles, government officials said.
Representatives from Tesla were in Indonesia last week for meetings regarding a potential battery-related investment, Indonesian officials and two people familiar with the talks have said.
Tesla had no immediate comment.
Indonesia for years has been trying to secure a deal with Tesla on battery investment, nickel funding and potentially for Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company.
Jokowi traveled from Washington, where he attended a meeting of leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to meet Musk at the SpaceX launch site in Boca Chica, Texas.
The Indonesian president invited the billionaire to visit Indonesia in November.
Jokowi is to host a summit of the Group of 20 big economies in Bali in November. “Hopefully in November,” the Indonesian government quoted Musk as saying.
Elon 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 biggest nickel reserves, and Jokowi is keen to get funding 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 rocket launch site in Indonesia.
Two deals over the past month have given new momentum to Jokowi’s push to develop an EV-related industry at a time when global automakers have been scrambling to secure supplies of battery materials and reduce their reliance on China.
A consortium led by South Korea’s LG Energy Solution Ltd, the global No. 2 maker of EV batteries, announced plans last month to invest $9 billion in Indonesia as part of a deal that would include everything from nickel refining to producing battery cells in Indonesia.
LG’s larger rival, China-based Contemporary Amperex Technology, a Tesla supplier, announced a $9-billion Indonesia investment in April.
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