Biden Welcomes Jokowi at the White House
On November 13, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) was welcomed by President Biden in Washington DC before the two leaders flew to San Francisco for the APEC Summit. This was a historic milestone as the two leaders officially announced to elevate U.S.-Indonesia ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, the highest diplomatic level and similar to the partnership upgrade that Biden announced with Vietnam during his September visit to Hanoi. Moreover, Biden-Jokowi meeting highlighted shared values of democracy and pluralism, just in time to celebrate the nearly 75-year-long partnership between the second- and third-largest democracies in the world.
As part of the two leaders’ commitment to upgrading bilateral ties, the White House announced several initiatives and programs with a focus on promoting economic prosperity and security cooperation. In addition, the initiatives are well balanced with the inclusion of climate initiatives and the strengthening of people-to-people connections between the people of the US and Indonesia. In alignment with Jokowi’s “2045 Indonesia Maju” goal to enhance prosperity for its people and overcome the middle-income country trap, President Biden also signaled his administration’s support for Indonesia initiating its accession process to become a full member of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Following the meeting between President Biden and President Jokowi, the joint statement issued a commitment to work together to reduce supply chain dependencies of China, create high-standard clean energy supply chain jobs in both countries by leveraging sustainable critical mineral sources. They affirm the importance of strong worker and environmental protections to prevent exploitation and promote sustainability in the international mining sector. Both leaders agreed to discuss an action plan that encompasses all these lines of effort and seeks to increase high standard investment in the critical minerals sectors in both countries. This aims to boost critical mineral investments in both countries, laying the groundwork for potential negotiations on an agreement in the future.
The new economic partnership expansion involves increasing digital connectivity in rural Indonesia, developing Indonesia's emerging enterprises and MSMEs as well as building secure and resilient semiconductor supply chains, aligned with their respective national interests and legislations. With support from the U.S. State Department’s International Technology Security and Innovation (ITSI) Fund, created by the U.S. CHIPS Act of 2022, the two leaders affirmed the USG Government's support for the development of, and spur investment in, Indonesia’s domestic semiconductor ecosystem. This strategic collaboration aims to elevate local value creation, diversify supply chains, and bolster the U.S. industry.
In the realm of trade, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) committed to financing a trade mission to the US, with a focus on advancing the development of the new capital city. This initiative will promote U.S. exports in quality, sustainable infrastructure and innovative smart-city solutions. USTDA plans to fund training for Indonesian officials on value-based procurement for designing, evaluating, and awarding tenders for the new capital city. This work complements USAID's continuous technical assistance to the Nusantara New Capital Authority (IKN) to create smart building guidelines. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) envisions orchestrating a Smart City Business Development Mission to intensify trade and investment in smart city development in Indonesia.
Climate Change Goals
President Biden recognized Indonesia’s important role in the clean energy transition. Following the launch of Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) at the G20 Summit in 2022, both countries unveiled a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on sustainable energy and mineral development. Complementing the MOU for Clean Energy Working Group signed by the U.S. DOC and Indonesia Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources in 2022, this initiative will advance technical cooperation on enabling environments and regulatory frameworks. The goal is to boost the uptake of renewable energy resources, enhance grid resiliency and security, and improve technologies for responsible mining and minerals processing. Furthermore, a new collaboration between the U.S. Commercial Law Development Program and the Indonesia Carbon Capture and Storage Center was announced – a timely initiative as Indonesia aims to become a global carbon storage hub.
The emphasis on strengthening people-to-people ties has opened wider avenues in educational, cultural and health-related initiatives. During this visit, President Jokowi and Georgetown University announced its plan to establish of a Georgetown University School of Foreign Service satellite program in Jakarta. This was a nice addition to the Letter of Intent signed by Nusantara Capital City (IKN) Chairman, Bambang Susantono with Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability last August in Jakarta. Furthermore, the intention to extension of the health cooperation MOU and the commitment to bolster Indonesia's immunization goals create compelling opportunities for U.S. health-related companies to play a vital role in advancing public health initiatives and investment in health preparedness.
Security and Cybersecurity
In light of the current conflict in Gaza, President Jokowi highlighted that the partnership between the two countries can contribute to global peace and invited President Biden to help stop the conflict that occur in Gaza. The discussion also included plans to strengthen the current MOU on counterterrorism cooperation and upgrade bilateral cybersecurity cooperation was also discussed while the joint Work Plan on Maritime Security. Additionally, the launch of the new Defense Cooperation Arrangement opens avenues for U.S. defense and security companies to contribute expertise and technologies.
Given the vast coverage of the partnership, a number of ministers accompanied President Jokowi on his visit to the White House. Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Ad Interim Erick Thohir, Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, Minister of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology Nadiem Makarim, Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin, Minister of Trade Zulkifli Hasan, Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Arifin Tasrif, and Indonesian Ambassador to the US Rosan Roeslani were listed in the Indonesian delegation.
The elevation of U.S.-Indonesia ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership elevates the bilateral diplomatic relationship and heralds numerous business opportunities for the U.S. private sector. As the new partnership leveled up and unfolded, U.S. companies can strategically position themselves and actively contribute to shared goals in economic, environmental, and security domains. This opens more avenues to create prosperity not only for the people of Indonesia but also for the United States.
Please find the list of programs and initiatives intended to be announced/implemented by both leaders here. The Joint Statement from the Leaders of the United States and Indonesia: Elevating Relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership can be accessed here.