After 70 years of fruitful diplomatic cooperation, the US and Indonesia’s relations is stronger than ever—a fact highlighted by Director of the American Chamber of Commerce, Lin Neumann, as he spoke to NOW! Jakarta about the organization’s mission and its future in Indonesia.
What are your thoughts on the recent election—its results, the process and the aftermath?
We have confidence in the Indonesian electoral process. More than 20 years after the beginning of the reformation era, elections here have become routine—and that is a good thing. The business community was confident going into the process that the results would be widely accepted and that is what has happened. There was remarkably little drama and Indonesia has become one of the most stable democracies in Southeast Asia and the recent elections simply reaffirmed that fact.
What will the imminent reshuffle mean for the American Chamber of Commerce here in Indonesia?
We do not really know what kind of reshuffle is in the offing, who will be in, and who will be out. I prefer not to speculate on what President Jokowi will or will not decide to do. Regardless, we are looking forward to maintain a close working relationship with the president’s economic team in the Jokowi 2.0 era. We have generally been warmly received by the cabinet as we bring our issues to the table; I see no reason for that to change. Our hope in AmCham Indonesia is that the government will do all that it can to promote investment and to streamline the regulatory environment for business that would benefit our companies and the people of Indonesia.
What are some of the major issues AmCham is currently looking into? Do you also cooperate with Kadin?
As usual, we are focused on specific regulations that we feel impact the investment climate. These include issues such as patent to workforce development, data privacy, data localization and a host of other matters. In addition, we strive to advocate for an environment in which regulations are used to promote investment and create growth opportunities for Indonesia.
On a broader level, we often collaborate with Kadin and also Apindo. Actually, AmCham’s partnership with Kadin goes back to the 1970s and we continue to seek ways to work together with the local business community on our many areas of common concern. When it comes to the private sector, we are united by our desire to see Indonesia grow and prosper.
Would you like to enlighten our readers on some of AmCham’s exciting events in the future?
Our committees are very active in engaging with the government on implementing regulations for Halal, discussing data localization and seeking a legal environment that are more conducive to investment, among other areas. If it impacts business, we are interested in it. This can range from good corporate governance and human resources to taxation and energy policy, among other issues. Later this year, we will have our annual US-Indonesia Investment Summit under the auspices of Initiative Indonesia and we will release a major report on investment—especially looking at the qualitative aspects of US investment in Indonesia. This is the time we bring all our sectors together.
Another thing, 2019 also marks the 70th anniversary of US-Indonesia diplomatic relations and, as such, it is a good time to highlight the many positive aspects of the relationship between the two countries—in business, education and other areas. As two of the largest democracies in the world, the US and Indonesia have a lot in common and much to celebrate. I would like to see even more ties especially in areas like health care and university education where Indonesia could benefit from the expertise of American companies.
Would you kindly highlight some of the major milestones of Initiative Indonesia after seven years since it was started?
Since we began Initiative Indonesia in 2013, our partnership with the US Chamber of Commerce, it has grown to become a primary advocacy and dialogue platform for companies to engage with the government of Indonesia. Each year we hold numerous events and sectorial missions as well as our premier event, the US-Indonesia Investment Summit, which is the largest bi-lateral private sector meeting of the year between American companies and the government of Indonesia. The 2019 US-Indonesia Investment Summit will take place in November in Jakarta.
The greatest accomplishment of the Initiative has been to increase understanding between the private sector and the government and to deepen avenues for discussion and dialogue. It is enormously valuable that we are able to engage freely and openly with the government on business issues.
Do you have any message to our readers?
I believe foreign investment represents a partnership between companies and the public and that the technical expertise delivered, jobs created and ideas shared as a result of investment will help Indonesia realize its full potential. It is in that spirit that we represent our companies and look for opportunities in Indonesia.