JAKARTA: US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Wednesday Washington’s review of a trade preference facility for Indonesia would conclude soon, and predicted “far more investment” by US companies in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has been reviewing Indonesia’s eligibility for the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) facility for more than a year due to concerns about market access for US goods, services and investment.
Speaking after meetings with Indonesian ministers and ahead of a meeting with President Joko Widodo, Ross said both sides had agreed to step up efforts to conclude the review.
“We are comfortable and confident that very quickly (the outstanding issues) could be resolved,” Ross told reporters in the Indonesian capital.
“I think we’ll see far more investment from American companies and far more bilateral trade than exist right now.”
The GSP program gives privileged trade status to developing economies. By retaining GSP and opening up more market access both ways, Indonesia and the US aim to more than double their trade in the next five years to $60 billion, Indonesian Chief Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto said.
Total two-way trade was worth $28.6 billion last year, according to Indonesian Trade Ministry data.
“We want to open access for our furniture and textiles and we have programs to import more cotton and wheat from the US,” Hartarto said.
Some 80 percent of the negotiations for the GSP facility, which reduces duties on $2 billion of Indonesian exports, have been completed, he said, adding that talks should be wrapped up before Christmas.
US companies including automotive firm Tesla and conglomerate Honeywell were seeking business opportunities, and Jakarta had promised improvements in the investment climate, Hartarto said.