Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – The Indonesian government is hoping that the Generalized System of Preferences will remain in place in the bilateral trade with the US for coming years, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Tuesday as she hosted a meeting with her American counterpart Antony Blinken.
The GSP is the US trade preference program intended to promote economic opportunity in developing countries by eliminating duties on many products imported from them.
Indonesia is one of the beneficiary countries and the facility was last extended last October during the Donald Trump presidency.
"We share the commitment to strengthening cooperation on trade and investment. The bilateral trade value reached $29.6 billion in the period of January-October 2021, representing a 33.9 percent increase on the trade value in the same period of last year," Retno said in the joint news conference at her office in Jakarta.
"Indonesia has also extended its wish for the GSP facility to be maintained by the US," she added.
Retno also noted that US investments in Indonesia have been growing rapidly in recent months.
"US investments in Indonesia totaled $749.7 million in 2020 and during the January-September period this year the figure already reached $1.3 billion, an increase of 73 percent even though it was only nine months into the year," she said.
"Investment opportunities in Indonesia are wide open in the areas of healthcare, digital, and energy transition."
In his brief remarks, Blinken didn't respond to the GSP topic, he instead mentioned cooperation on maritime issues and people-to-people ties, including bilateral deals on education and the Peace Corps – the US volunteer program.
Bliken said thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Indonesian have participated in the program.
"Since 2009, American volunteers have worked with Indonesian programs across the country – teaching English, teaching teachers, living with families, learning local languages," he said.
"It's a wonderful program that represents the friendship between our countries and in many ways the best of our countries. This is a powerful source of strong people-to-people ties, and what's so important about it is that it builds a strong connection that will last for years, for generations and that really is the foundation of everything that we're doing," Blinken said.
Retno expressed gratitude to US support to Indonesia's Covid-19 pandemic responses.
"Allow me to use this occasion to convey our appreciation for US support to Indonesia during the pandemic," Retno said.
"There have been 25.4 million vaccine doses delivered to Indonesia with American support through the Covax facility, including 7 million doses that just arrived yesterday," she added.
She also thanked Blinken for his participation in the Bali Democracy Forum held on December 9.
The event coincided with the Summit for Democracy hosted by US President Joe Biden, in which President Joko Widodo was also invited.
"In addition to bilateral issues, we also discussed regional and global issues. We really appreciate US support to Indonesia's G-20 presidency," Retno said.
"We shared thoughts about the situation in Afghanistan and I presented Indonesia's plan to increase humanitarian assistance for the Afghan people," Retno said, adding that foreign ministers from the Organization of Islamic Conference countries will meet in Islamabad to discuss the matter.