Jakarta. United States Ambassador Joseph Donovan has emphasized the importance of openness to the rest of the world for economic growth and development.
Speaking at a public seminar titled "From Drill Bit to Digital Bytes: Thoughts on a Stronger US-Indonesia Economic Relationship" in Jakarta on Wednesday (10/05), Donovan said Indonesia benefits from an "open, inclusive approach that welcomes US entrepreneurs and executives to work" in the country.
The ambassador said while Indonesia has been very vocal in its drive to attract more investment, the archipelago nation has introduced various local regulations that make it difficult for global supply chains to include the country.
He said the government needs to create an attractive business environment for overseas firms to tap into Indonesia's potential of even stronger economic growth.
Donovan also touched on the issue of American firms hiring local workers, by saying that Indonesia needs to look at countries such as India to build a more solid pool of experienced talent.
"In almost all cases, most international firms would generally prefer to hire Indonesians over expatriates [...] [though] there are definitely talented people here, but the fact is, there are still not enough to go around," Donovan said.
He added that it is not only American companies that have a hard time finding employees with the right skills and experience, but that it applies to Indonesian companies also, particularly those engaged in digital commerce.
Citing India as an example, the ambassador said the South Asian nation invited international partners to share their knowledge and skills, helping the country build a talented, skilled pool of workers that are needed by both local and international companies.
He further noted that the United States was Indonesia's largest export market last year, amounting to $19 billion.
Indonesia and the United States reaffirmed their strategic partnership with the visit of Vice President Mike Pence to Jakarta in April, during which the focus was on cooperation and investment.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi visited the United States last week to attend a follow-up meeting on a bilateral trade agreement. She held discussions on regulatory issues related to trade and investment during her visit.
Although the two countries have agreed to enhance their partnership, the trade agreement between them is still on hold since Indonesia is on a list of 16 countries included in an executive order US President Trump signed last month to investigate trade imbalances.
During Wednesday's seminar in Jakarta, Ambassador Donovan addressed some concerns regarding the Trump administration.
On the issue of protectionism, the ambassador emphasized that openness was key to economic growth and development.
"The opposite [of openness] is also true; a country that closes itself off to opportunities to increase two-way trade, to welcome foreign investment and to test itself against global competition, loses opportunities to grow and develop," Donovan said.
He gave reassurances that the United States is well aware that its prosperity is closely linked to the Asia-Pacific region. He said the country invites cooperation in creating "more successful ways that demonstrate a win-win nature of our economic relationships."
Quoting a remark Vice President Pence made during his visit to Indonesia, Donovan said "when President Trump talks about America first, he doesn't mean America only."
"From Drill Bit to Digital Bytes: Thoughts on a Stronger US-Indonesia Economic Relationship" was presented by the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI), state-run news agency Antara and the US committee of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).