WASHINGTON, D.C. and JAKARTA, INDONESIA – The U.S. and Indonesia are “partners in recovery” from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to government officials and private sector leaders at the 8th annual U.S.-Indonesia Investment Summit. This year’s summit was held virtually, with sessions spread across three days on December 8th, 10th, and 11th.
Hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AmCham Indonesia, the summit examined the current business climate in Indonesia, the Indonesian government’s use of omnibus legislation, and Indonesia’s efforts to position itself as an alternative sourcing destination in the region.
“Both Indonesia and the United States have experienced massive disruptions from the pandemic, but in both countries, we have also seen the importance of the private sector in mitigation and recovery efforts. U.S. companies have played an important role in Indonesia for decades, but never more so than now,” said Lin Neumann, Managing Director, AmCham Indonesia.
The U.S. and Indonesia look toward an era of expanded cooperation, following the recent visit of a high-level Indonesian delegation led by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan to the White House and the positive conclusion of the United States Trade Representative’s review of Indonesia’s eligibility under the General System of Preferences. The summit also takes place on the heels of discussions of U.S. investment in Indonesia’s forthcoming sovereign wealth fund and in infrastructure projects via the U.S. Export Import Bank, along with Indonesian officials’ proposal for a limited trade agreement.
“As we look to 2021 and beyond, Indonesia can be an even greater market for U.S. trade and investment. American companies want to do business in Indonesia and are attracted by its potential. However, the full economic potential of the U.S.-Indonesia relationship can only be realized through continued efforts by the Indonesian government to reduce trade barriers, protect innovation, promote regulatory transparency, and enhance structural reforms. The U.S. Chamber looks forward to doing our part to enhance these ties,” said Charles Freeman, U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President of Asia.
The U.S. Chamber and AmCham Indonesia pointed out that for years, the economic relationship has underperformed; for example, despite Indonesia’s $1.1 trillion economy, U.S. exports to the country last year were less than $8 billion, and below the level of much smaller countries such as Peru and the Dominican Republic. While U.S. imports from Indonesia are more substantial, they have essentially been flat for the past several years – even amidst the U.S.-China trade tensions, which should have opened up opportunities for Indonesia to position itself as an alternative supplier and boost its exports to the U.S.
Featured speakers at this year’s summit included Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment; Sri Mulyani, Minister of Finance; Suharso Monoarfa, Minister of National Development Planning; Johnny G. Plate, Minister of ICT; Muhammad Lutfi, Ambassador of Indonesia to the U.S.; and Sung Kim, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia.
The summit is the flagship event for Initiative Indonesia, a joint U.S. Chamber of Commerce-AmCham Indonesia venture, and serves as a culmination of the year’s programming and advocacy work. Findings from the Initiative’s business missions earlier in the year focused on innovation, financial services, and health care fed into the summit’s strategic-level discussions.