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US Trade Mission in Indonesia Ahead Of Obama's Visit

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke called his trade mission to Indonesia, an advance team for President Barack Obama's upcoming visit. The commerce secretary is in Jakarta with a U.S. business delegation to promote clean energy related investment and export opportunities.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke told business leaders in Jakarta that when President Barack Obama visits Indonesia in the coming weeks, he will sign a broad partnership agreement detailing how the two countries will cooperate on several issues, including trade, education, and the environment. The most important issue on the list, he says, is the production of clean energy.

"Energy is the defining issue of our time," he said. "It is the one issue, more than any other, that will shape the fate of our planet, our economies and our nations."

Leading a delegation of American energy, construction and engineering companies, the commerce secretary said clean energy production is an area of mutual interest for the entire world.

"This rapid development in Indonesia and elsewhere around the world, in fact throughout Asia and Africa and parts of Latin America, will challenge the world's physical and intellectual resources as never before," added Locke. "Because by 2050, the global energy use is going to double. In 40 years global energy use is going to double."

The economic imperative he says is matched by the need to reduce the world's reliance on fossil fuels, which produce carbon-dioxide emissions associated with global warming. Indonesia is the third-largest producer of carbon-dioxide and the Indonesian government has pledged to reduce emissions by at least 26 percent by the year 2020.

Secretary Locke says government will play a critical role in providing regulations and incentives, but the private sector will actually develop and operate a variety of wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric power plants. These projects will provide export opportunities for American companies, as well as more jobs and increased capacity for the Indonesian economy. But he says issues of corruption, bureaucratic delays, and overlapping regulations in Indonesia worry potential investors.

"As I talk to American business leaders, the overriding issue that I hear is that there is not enough government transparency," he continued. "Businesses frequently do not know what the rules are, how they will be enforced and how decisions are made."

Secretary Locke says the United States seeks a level playing field for American companies to compete in Indonesia's growing economy.