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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     14 October  2011                    

US chamber visits Indonesia

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After a two-day visit, the delegation of chamber of commerce of the economically depressed United States found out that the growing Indonesia could be a safe place for investment in the midst of the global recession.

The Singapore-based American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) organized a trade delegation, which comprised of 31 business leaders representing more than 20 United States companies, to visit Indonesia to meet the government and business representatives, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The delegation met several high ranking officials, including Industry Minister M.S. Hidayat, Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu, Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) Chairman Gita Wirjawan. US Ambassador for Singapore David I Adelman, who led the delegation, said that the trade mission was important for his country which was struggling to recover its economy.

“American commercial success in Asia is linked to our economic recovery. And success in Indonesia is central to our great success, not only trade but also investment,” Adelman told journalists during a press briefing on Wednesday evening.

AmCham vice chairman of the board of governors Colin Low said that members of delegation in the trade mission fulfilled its objective to learn about Indonesian economy and that the country was ready for more investment.

“When I say ready, the government recognized what its need to do; it got a master plan to build the infrastructure. But it also recognized its weakness. It’s very realistic, it’s very practical,” Low said, referring to the Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Growth (MP3EI).

Low said that Indonesia’s experience maintain economy during 2008 crisis and would likely unaffected by current global economic downturn due to European debt crisis and US slow growth, would make the country as one of safe places for investment.

“If I look to put money and asset and investment, I’ll go to a safer place. I think you’re internally protected because, as I’ve just learned, 70 percent of your economy is internally driven,” Low said on the sidelines of the Wednesday event.

Low also cited AmCham Singapore’s ASEAN Business Outlook survey released in September, which found that Indonesia was the most popular regional destination into which US companies want to expand.

US Ambassador for Indonesia Scot Marciel ensured that his country’s slow economic growth would not influence the two countries’ trade relations.

“US economy is still by far the largest economy in the world. This is the first time in our history that we have slow period. We don’t have trouble to find people who want to work with us, even though the US economy only grew 1 percent in the first half of the year,” Marciel said.

He pointed out that Indonesia’s export to the US rose more than 20 percent while US export to Indonesia grew 17 percent in the first half of this year, despite the economic slowdown.

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