RI, US partnership deepens both countries` ties: US envoy

RI, US partnership deepens both countries` ties: US envoy

Robert Blake (tamil.net)

Our economic partnership with Indonesia is important to both countries.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - US Ambassador to Indonesia Robert O. Blake said the economic partnership agreement between the United States and Indonesia had deepened ties through economic integration and the opportunities it presents.

"Our economic partnership with Indonesia is important to both countries. Two of the five working groups in the US-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership, the energy working group and the trade and investment working group, are focused on economic issues that affect both our countries," Blake said in a function at the President University on Wednesday.

He said the partnership, established in 2010, deepened both countries ties.

"In 2013, we were Indonesias fourth-largest export market and the largest buyer of Indonesian rubber products, clothes, shoes and sneakers, fish, coffee and tea, furniture products, toys, and musical instruments, to name a few," the ambassador was quoted by the US Embassy on its official website.

Blake said if anyone recognized a pattern in what the United States bought from Indonesia, the person would see that the United States is not simply buying natural resources from Indonesia, such as coal, but rather it is the most important buyer in many labor-intensive manufacturing industries.

In other words, many Indonesians have good-paying manufacturing jobs today because the United States is not only open to Indonesian exports, but is a leading consumer of those exports.

By some estimates, Indonesia exports to the United States account for 2.5 million jobs in Indonesia.

"We are not, however, simply buyers of your products. We are really partners with Indonesia and Indonesian companies. Since 1898, when the company that eventually became ExxonMobil began exploring for oil and gas in Sumatra, American companies have been major investors in Indonesia, creating jobs, bringing new technology, and providing social programs, such as housing, education and health services," he said.

According to a study conducted by Ernst and Young, the Paramadina Public Policy Institute, and the Gajah Mada University, American companies in the past eight years have invested US$65 billion into the Indonesian economy, primarily in the oil and gas, mining, and manufacturing sectors. If the business and regulatory environment in Indonesia is conducive to further investments, American companies expect to invest another US$61 billion in the next five years.

That is a lot of investment. There are almost 200,000 Indonesians working directly for American companies in Indonesia and another 1.7 million jobs have indirectly been created by American investments. Indonesians make up 95 percent of the workforce in American-owned companies, with many Indonesians in the senior management levels, he said.

The US companies pay a fair wage. The average wage of an Indonesian working for an American company is more than two times the minimum wage in Jakarta.

"In the United States, we have a saying show me the money. American companies clearly have shown Indonesia the money when it comes to investments," Blake said.

However, American companies are doing more than simply investing their money. They are also investing in Indonesians. Large American companies in Indonesia spend on average about US$2 million per year on staff training alone.

"Think about that. How many scholarships to the President University would $2 million dollars fund? That is how many Indonesians are receiving work-related training to make them more valuable in the workforce and more competitive in the global economy," the US envoy stated.

American companies are also investing in Indonesian communities. Through CSR programs around the country, American companies spend on average almost US$6 million per year to improve the lives and livelihoods of Indonesians. There are programs for almost anything from people with disabilities, to scholarships for education, to entrepreneurship programs creating small businesses, to improving health services and cleaning up the environment.
(A014)

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