"It is a mistake to hinder this healthy trade with import restrictions, as Indonesia has been doing recently," Joseph R Donovan said during the US-Indonesia Investment Summit here on Thursday.
The ambassador understood Indonesias desire to assist rural producers in boosting their incomes.
However, this can best be accomplished through research and development to increase productivity and by improving the rural infrastructure to shorten supply chains.
"We also understand Indonesias interest in having food security. But food security doesnt have to mean self-sufficiency," he stated.
Supporting local agricultural production can go hand-in-hand with imports to achieve a stable and reliable domestic food supply, he said.
"I think you would all agree that we dont want to see our mutually beneficial agricultural trade relationship negatively impacted by short-sighted protectionist policies that only distort markets and increase consumer prices," the ambassador pointed out.
Any story about our mutually beneficial trade relationship is not complete without mentioning our agricultural trade, which was valued at 10.4 trillion rupiah (US$7.6 billion) in 2016, he remarked.
"Our agricultural trade truly has the potential to be a win-win arrangement, with each of our countries exporting to the other products in which we hold a competitive advantage," he stated.
Indonesias leading agricultural exports to the United States are aquaculture products, palm oil, rubber, cocoa, coffee, and spices.
Meanwhile, the main US agricultural exports to Indonesia are soybeans, cotton, wheat, fruit, livestock feed, and dairy products.
These products serve as crucial raw materials for many of Indonesias key sectors, including tempe and tofu, textiles, instant noodles, and meat manufacturing.
Similarly, the products Indonesia sends to the United States are key materials for the multi-billion dollar rubber, confectionary, beverage, and food service industries.
"In addition, this trade underpins many of our most labor-intensive sectors, providing employment and food security to our citizens," the ambassador stated.(*)