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Indonesian President Seeking Investment During Summits

Russian President Vladimir Putin (r) shakes hands with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Beijing, Nov. 10, 2014.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, widely known as Jokowi, is using his visits to the APEC and ASEAN summits this week to push for foreign investment in his country.

In China Wednesday, he told business leaders that foreign investors will have the opportunity to invest in several projects, such as building roads, maritime transportation and railways across Indonesia.

"We are waiting for your arrival in Indonesia. We are waiting for you to invest in Indonesia," Widodo said.

Later at the ASEAN summit in Myanmar, also known as Burma, he stressed that Indonesia won't be just a market for foreign products. He said his country must be a part of regional and global production. He called for speedy infrastructure development and connectivity among ASEAN members.

Widodo signaled that attracting foreign investment would be a priority when he won election earlier this year. He took office just last month.

Indonesian businessman Sandiago Uno told VOA Thursday he welcomes the president's presentations at both forums. However, he said the government needs to work extra hard to improve the investment climate at home.

"In terms of uncomplicated bureaucracy and a better investment climate, both could be achieved," he said. "I have enough confidence that as an anchor of ASEAN, the level of Indonesia economic growth would be higher than now. Perhaps by 2019, Indonesia growth would be seven percent."

Mundradjat, an economics professor at Gadjah Mada University, tells VOA that to succeed in the coming ASEAN economic community, Indonesia has to open up its economy.

"Whether Indonesia is ready or not, it must be ready for the 2015 ASEAN Economic Community. Indonesia needs to liberalize production, services, investments, capital and educated manpower," said Mundradjat. "Do we want to be a spectator or a player?

He adds that with Indonesia having about 40 percent of the total ASEAN population, it could be a very attractive target for investors.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Indonesian service.