A First Look at the Road Ahead for Growing US-Indonesia Partnership

A First Look at the Road Ahead for Growing US-Indonesia Partnership

Jakarta Globe, 23 September 2010


Last week in Washington the US-Indonesia Joint Commission was inaugurated, further cementing the Comprehensive Partnership that is increasingly becoming a force for peace and progress in Southeast Asia and beyond.

Indonesia and the United States are two of the world’s major democracies, bound together by a web of historical, cultural and economic ties that span the Pacific, and by our shared values and aspirations.

Based on these assets, we will build a dynamic partnership that is forward-looking, driven by opportunities, shared values and hopes, and based on equal partnership.
The kinship and understanding between our nations run deep.

President Barack Obama has spoken often about how much he learned as a young boy during his time in Indonesia, how this helped him come to understand that people of different backgrounds and beliefs can come together around common values and aspirations.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has also spoken about his positive experiences as a graduate student at Webster University in the United States.

The joint commission will build on these personal bonds, seek to multiply them and help our nations meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the 21st century.

In areas where Indonesia and the United States are already working well together, the joint commission will improve our coordination. In others, it will help us chart a new course.

People across the world look to Indonesia as a model for how Islam, democracy and women’s rights cannot only coexist, but flourish.

The United States has great stakes in the success of Indonesia’s democracy, reforms and national unity.

The following is an excerpt of the joint statement released at the conclusion of the commission’s first meeting in Washington:

The Joint Commission is a key component of Obama and Yudhoyono’s long-term commitment to broadening, deepening and elevating bilateral relations between Indonesia and the United States to confront the challenges of the 21st century.

Chaired by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, this framework within the Comprehensive Partnership strengthens bilateral collaboration on a broad range of issues in order to promote peace, stability and economic prosperity, not only for the United States and Indonesia, but also regionally and globally.

The Comprehensive Partnership allows our two countries to fully explore and build upon our shared national interests, maximizes cooperation on our mutual priorities and strengthens the already rich relationship between the people of Indonesia and the United States.

Clinton and Natalegawa reaffirmed that the US-Indonesia relationship was an enduring friendship based on common values including democracy, tolerance, respect for human rights and diversity and a joint promotion of economic development.

They pledged that the United States and Indonesia would engage in close, frequent consultations on global and regional developments.

Both recognized the significance of enhanced cooperation between two of the largest democracies in the world, the opportunities for economic and development cooperation and the value of fostering mutual understanding through people-to-people exchanges.

The two ministers affirmed that the joint commission and its working groups were to assist both countries in overcoming shared challenges using the Plan of Action.

They confirmed that the working groups have been charged with coordinating strategies and highlighting policy initiatives and priorities in the areas of democracy and civil society, education, climate and environment, trade and investment, security and energy.

The two ministers also agreed to explore the possibility of additional working groups, as appropriate.

Democracy and Civil Society
The two officials reported that under a mission statement of promoting good governance, enhancing democracy and strengthening human rights protection through dialogue and capacity building, working group strategies and activities will focus on elections and political participation, freedom of information and expression, conflict resolution, promoting basic human rights, civil society, freedom of association, transparency, anticorruption efforts and also strengthening the rule of law.

Working group co-chairs reiterated the goals of increasing the number of Indonesians studying in the United States and vice versa over the next five years.

They also recognized the value of strengthening university partnerships, supporting increases in government-sponsored exchange programs and engaging the resources and expertise of the private sector, foundations and the higher education community.

They affirmed the need to share best practices to enhance the provision of quality education and to invite private-sector entities to leverage their knowledge and technology toward shared goals.

Climate and Environment
Working group co-chairs reaffirmed the components of the US-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership on climate change announced at the G-20 meeting in Toronto this year.

They pledged to use the working group as a forum to exchange best practices and information regarding climate change and the environment.

Attention will be on land-use change, peatlands and forests; marine environments and oceans; and environmental management and policy.

They also identified the Solusi Partnership and the Climate Change Center as vehicles to make progress on these fronts. They acknowledged the need to incorporate education and public outreach in all their endeavors.

Trade and Investment
In advance of the joint commission meeting, US Deputy Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis and Indonesian Deputy Trade Minister Mahendra Siregar met in Indonesia to assess progress made by both governments in improving bilateral trade and investment following the last Trade and Investment Council meeting in Washington in May 2009.

They reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen cooperation in the field of trade and investment and to resolve remaining issues within the framework of the TIC.

Working group co-chairs reported on the result of the last meeting of the Indonesia-US Security Dialogue in Washington in May.

They reaffirmed the strong security relationship the two countries shared, and pledged to continue close cooperation on programs related to maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, peacekeeping and defense reform and professionalization. The chairs also reported on the recent signing of the Framework Arrangement on Cooperative Activities in the Field of Defense, and highlighted the annual Security Dialogue as the pre-eminent forum for the two countries to discuss security issues.

Working group co-chairs reported on the result and follow-up of the last meeting of Energy Policy Dialogue in Washington in June.

The EPD is the primary mechanism for bilateral cooperation and policy discussions in the areas of mutual energy security, energy trade and investment and the deployment of clean and efficient energy technologies.

At the June EPD meeting, both sides agreed to identify two to three new areas in which to expand cooperative bilateral activities.

Indonesia proposed focusing on an information exchange on policies to improve the investment climate, build capacity and promote sustainable economic development, participation in “methane to markets,” and encouraging public-private investment partnerships in the energy sector.

Both delegations pledged to increase communication at the technical and working level and are developing a concrete work plan.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is the US secretary of state, and Marty Natalegawa is the Indonesian minister of foreign affairs.