"The US-ASEAN Summit offers a good opportunity to strengthen the US-ASEAN cooperation, particularly in economic sectors," President Widodo stated during his speech at the US-ASEAN Summit Retreat I here on Monday.
The president affirmed that the US-ASEAN cooperation must help to continue the development of SMEs and the digital economy as both sectors together serve as the economic backbone of the ASEAN, particularly Indonesia.
Jokowi pointed out that some 88.8 percent to 99.9 percent of the businesses operating in the ASEAN are SMEs. The sector also absorbs 51.7 percent to 97.2 percent of the workforce in the ASEAN.
He said the SMEs, with high financial durability, can support the economy, even during a global economic crisis.
The president noted that SMEs often face challenges, mainly related to capacity improvement, capital and alternative funding, access to technology as well as the global market, and regional market integration.
In relation to developing a sustainable SME sector, Jokowi remarked that the US-ASEAN cooperation must facilitate market access and knowledge sharing from giant enterprises to SMEs.
Additionally, Jokowi stated that the development of technology should support the digital economy in the ASEAN.
"Each government must ensure that the digital era can bring several benefits to the people, particularly to the SME sector. The SMEs must have access to technology and digital economy," Jokowi emphasized.
According to the president, Indonesia is targeting to become the largest digital economy among the ASEAN nations by 2020.
Thus, Jokowi added that Indonesia fully supported the US-ASEAN cooperation in the information technology sector, particularly for the utilization of digital economy for the public.
"I believe the cooperation can help to reduce the development gap among ASEAN countries," the president affirmed.
The US-ASEAN Summit is being held following the establishment of the ASEANs new strategic partnership with the United States in 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The strategic partnership will be realized through the implementation of the ASEAN-US action plan for the 2016-2020 period.
The action plan will support the three pillars of the ASEAN Community and five priority areas, including economic integration, maritime cooperation, inter-nation challenges, including climate change, as well as the empowerment of women and children.(*)