RELEASE: Indonesian President’s First Trip to United States an Opportunity to Boost Economic and Security Ties
Washington, D.C. — Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s—universally known as Jokowi—visit to the United States next week will be an opportunity for him to show that he is a world leader Americans can relate to and that Indonesia is a strong partner for the United States. The Center for American Progress released an issue brief today showing how the Indonesian president’s background as a reformer and political outsider not bound by the entrenched elites and interests in his own country presents a real opportunity for important change in a country with the world’s fourth-largest population, as well as significant barriers.
“The story of Jokowi’s rise to leadership should be a familiar one for most Americans,” said Brian Harding, Director for East and Southeast Asia at CAP and the author of the brief. “Much like our own president, he was not born a part of the political elite and has been seen as an agent of change with the opportunity to improve the lives of millions of his country’s citizens and his country’s position in the region and around the globe. Similarly, he faces significant headwinds from the ruling establishment that has made his first 12 months in office a mixed bag as he navigated the old guard’s culture of rent-seeking and patronage. His trip to the United States is expected to bring tangible economic and security benefits to Indonesia and help bolster the idea that the country is poised to be a world player.”
Jokowi—a progressive awash in a sea of conservatives within his own country and throughout the region—ran on a message of reducing inequality by investing in health care and education. Attempts to level the playing field for low-income citizens have raised the hopes of millions of Indonesians, but bureaucratic and political barriers have made real progress slow going. Coupled with an economically slow period throughout the entire region, Jokowi’s approval at home has suffered, and he faces significant headwinds from his political opposition and within his own cabinet. With this trip, Jokowi is seeking to solidify Indonesia’s security relationship with the United States and espouse the message to U.S. companies that Indonesia is open for business and a prime candidate for international investment.
Click here to read “Jokowi’s Visit Will Highlight Why Indonesia Is a Natural U.S. Partner” by Brian Harding.
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