President Joko Widodo arrives at US Presidential guest house "Blair House" in Washington D.C. on Sunday evening local time. (Photo courtesy of Joko Widodo's Twitter account)

Joko Arrives in US, Talks Economy with Indonesian Diaspora


OCTOBER 26, 2015

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo has kicked off his five-day state visit in the United States arriving in Washington DC to meet over 1,000 Indonesians on Sunday evening.

The Indonesian delegation, including Coordinating Minister of Economics Darmin Nasution, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno L.P. Marsudi, Trade Minister Thomas Lembong and Investment Coordinating Board Head Franky Sibarani, arrived at 3.30 p.m. local time at the Indonesian consulate building where 1,250 Indonesian people from across Washington DC gathered to meet the president.

At the gathering, Joko delivered a speech in which he insisted the Indonesian economy is nowhere near replicating the 1998 economic catastrophe.

"A crisis is when the monetary has taken a nose dive and economic growth is minus. That may happen to other countries, but we are among the top five with the biggest growth," said Joko as quoted by state news agency Antara.

Indonesia's economy has been sluggish recording a 4.7 percent growth in the first half this year, while annual inflation rate cooled to 6.83 percent in September.

The president called on the Indonesians in the US to remain optimistic.

"Our economy needs a fundamental economic transformation in which we shift from focusing on consumption and selling raw materials to production, industry and investment," Joko said.

"It is difficult and bitter at first, but in the mid- to long-term we believe that this is the right direction," he added.

The group then moved to Blair House, the official state guest house. Minister Retno held a press conference explaining the four bilateral meetings between Joko and his US counterpart President Barack Obama.

The meetings, scheduled to take place on Monday local time at the Oval Office of the White House, will cover the role of both countries as two of the world's largest democracies and developing trade agreements.

Retno added the high-level discussions will also talk about efforts to boost digital markets and tackle climate change issues.

"Hopefully these meetings will benefit both countries equally," Retno said.

Aside from meeting state officials, Joko is also scheduled to have investment talks with the American Chamber of Commerce and US businesses, including Coca Cola, Cargill, Philip Morris International, Apple and Google.