Jokowi stressed the importance of development of UMKMs as it serves as an economic backbone for the ten member countries of ASEAN including Indonesia.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Economic cooperation is high in the agenda of US-ASEAN Summit opened in California by President Barrack Obama on Monday afternoon.

The theme of talks in the first session was "Promoting an Innovative, Entrepreneurial ASEAN Economic Community".

In the session Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) raised issue of digital economy and development of micro, small and medium scale enterprises (UMKMs).

Jokowi stressed the importance of development of UMKMs as it serves as an economic backbone for the ten member countries of ASEAN including Indonesia.

He said UMKMs make up around 88.8-99.9 percent of business units in ASEAN and provide 51.7 percent - 97.2 percent of jobs in the region.

In Indonesia , UMKMs have proved resistant to global economic turbulence and have succeeded in sustaining the countrys economy amid the global crisis, he said.

The president , however, said UMKMs are often confronted with big challenges especially with bottlenecks in capacity expansion, and in access to capital sources, technology and global market.

US-ASEAN cooperation, therefore, is needed to better guarantee sustainable development and resilience of UMKMs especially in maintaining access to market and transfer of technology from large companies.

Jokowi said technology and digital economy are a must in the era of digitalization, adding UMKMs must have access to technology and digital economy.

"Each government should make sure that digital economy would benefit the people especially UMKMs," he added.

He said Indonesia has a vision that it would rank among the worlds largest digital economies in 2020.

The country, therefore, strongly pushes for US-ASEAN cooperation in information technology especially in the utilization of digital economy for the public, he said.

"I believe the cooperation would reduce gap in economic development among ASEAN countries," he told the delegations in the first session of the summit meeting.

Deputy adviser of the US National Security Council Ben Rhodes said the United States is interested in ASEAN, which represents the 7th largest economy in the world.

Strategic Partnership

The US-ASEAN Summit was the fourth of the annual meeting with the first held in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam on 9 October 2013, the second in Naypyitaw, Myanmar on 13 November 2014, and the third in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 21 November 2015.

The two-day fourth summit in Rancho Mirage, Sunnylands, California, from February 15-16, was attended by leaders of the ten member countries of ASEAN including Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Philippine President Benigno S Aquino III, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Myanmar Vice President Thein Sein, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and Laotian President Choummaly Sayasone.

The annual summit was held following four US-ASEAN Leaders Meetings -- on 15 November, 2009 in Singapore, on 24 September, 2010 in New York, on 18 November, 2011 in Bali, Indonesia and on 19 November, 2012 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Institutional cooperation between the United States and ASEAN was formed in 2009, although dialogic cooperation has been in progress since 1977 to maintain stability and peace in Southeast Asia.

In the third meeting in Kuala Lumpur ,the US and ASEAN leaders issued joint statement to launch the US-ASEAN Strategic Partnership in political, security and economic fields.

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said that the US-ASEAN Summit in Sunnylands discussed wide range of issues including action plan for the implementation of the strategic partnership.

The ASEAN secretariat already issued document on the final action plan for the period of 2016-2020.

Also included in the agenda was cooperation in US-ASEAN connectivity development, initiative for ASEAN integration, strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat, and implementation mechanism.

Cooperation in economic sector covered trade, investment, finance, copyrights, UMKMs, communications and information technology , energy, food, agriculture and forestry.

Strategic partnership of US-ASEAN would be important in the UMKM development especially in facing global competition.

In addition it would be a continuation of technical assistance for the capacity expansion of entrepreneurship in ASEAN especially among the young and woman entrepreneurs in developing UMKMs to be more competitive globally.

ASEAN and the United States agree on exchange program for UMKM development and both sides would continue to hold training in the development of digital technology.

Meanwhile, Trade Minister Thomas Trikasih Lembong, who was among the Indonesian delegation to the US-ASEAN meeting, said Indonesia would seek to promote ASEAN as a leading Asian economic center .

"Roadshow this year is to promote ASEAN as a leading economic center in Asia and becomes key economic partner of the United States," he said.

Thomas took part in the AEM-USTR (ASEAN Economic Ministers/United States Trade Representative) Consultations on February 17 to be followed with a roadshow by ASEAN economics ministers (AEM) di San Francisco, until Feb 18, 2016.

The roadshow would be the third by AEM after ones in 2010 and 2012.

Also taking part in the AEM meeting were Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei Darussalam Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng, Industri and Trade Minister of Laos Khemmani Pholsena, Trade Minister of Sun Chantol, International Trade and Industry Minister of Malaysia Dato Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister for National Planning and Economic Development of Myanmar Kan Zaw, Trade Minister of Thailand Apiradi Tantraporn, and ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh, Staqte Minister for Industry and Trade of Singapore Koh Poh Koon, Secretary of Trade and Industry Ministry of the Philippines Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. and Deputy Trade and Industry Minister of Vietnam Tran Quoc Khanh.(*)

Reporter: Budi Setiawanto/A. Saragih
Editor: Heru Purwanto
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