American Indonesian Chamber of Commerce


A Positive Narrative

If I look back over the past year, the story lines surrounding Indonesia have mostly been negative. Of course, part of the reason is that the main principle of the media is that “bad news sells”. On Indonesia’s side there have been natural disasters (flooding, mudslides, eruptions etc.), commercial concerns (halal import restrictions, local content rules for data and other products), disputes over mining contracts, WTO rulings), terrorism attacks, and the ugliness of the Jakarta governor’s election. On the US side have been the concerns over Muslims traveling to the US, the withdrawal from TPP, and Indonesia’s inclusion in the Commerce Department’s review of countries with large trade deficits.

However, as we learned from Ambassador Donovan during our recent conference call, some of the open questions resulting from President Trump’s 2016 election were answered during Vice President Pence’s April visit as well as the strong delegation Indonesia sent to the TIFA talks in Washington in June (trade and investment framework agreement). Although much remains to be done to maximize US-Indonesia commercial relations, things seem to be on track and both sides are actively engaged. (Click the link in the events listing to the left to hear the Ambassador’s remarks on rewind).

We at AICC (working with our partners KADIN and other organizations such as USABC, US Chamber, AMCHAM and Asia Society) are now busy working on the first-ever US-Indonesia Women’s CEO Summit, featuring a keynote by Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati. We hope it will present an alternate, more positive narrative. Increasingly Indonesian women are a potent force in Indonesia’s economy, belying the country’s image as a Islamic nation where women stay at home after they are married.

Just as the American economy of the 1970’s and 80’s–challenged as it was by a rebuilt Japan and Germany–depended on women joining the workforce in large numbers, Indonesia’s economic future will increasingly depend on women, not just for their ability as consumers but also for their own unique technical and leadership qualities.

To date we have received commitments from some stellar and visionary women from within and outside our membership who will be participating. We are working closely with Melanne Verveer, Director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, who elevated the role of women in international affairs as President Obama’s Ambassador-at-large for Women’s Issues as well as Shinta Kamdani Widjaja, CEO of the Sintesa Group, a special advisor to Indonesia’s Vice President, and one of Indonesia’s leaders on women’s entrepreneurship. Other companies that are slated to have a women C-Suiter participate are: Freeport McMoRan, PT Cigna Indonesia, Citibank, PT Sinkona Indonesia Lestari, SSEK LLP, White & Case LLP, PT Thamrin Group and several others. If you know someone we should consider, please let me know.