United States-Indonesia Society Dinner in Honor of Vice President Jusuf Kalla
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Ambassador Merrill, for that kind introduction. Mr. Vice President, thank you for joining us this evening.
I appreciate the work that the United States-Indonesia Society and everyone here tonight does to maintain and deepen the close relationship between the United States and Indonesia.
We need the continued advice, energy and support of the U.S.-Indonesia Society – of all of you.
I’ve visited Indonesia with President Obama, with Secretary Kerry, and on my own – we all recognize and respect Indonesia’s important place in the region and the world.
The story of how this country of 240 million people spread over 17,000 islands worked through the trials of the 20th century to forge an influential, stable, multi-ethnic, united, and democratic nation is a remarkable one.
The story of Indonesia’s commitment to human rights, to the rule of law, to religious tolerance and pluralism is remarkable.
So is the story of the modest son of a craftsman who rose to the pinnacle of power through a democratic process.
I watched with admiration, Mr. VP, as you and Pa Jokowi were inaugurated and your predecessors stepped aside gracefully in respect for the will of the people. Remarkable. Inspirational.
And under a U.S. President who himself is from a Pacific Islander, and who spent much of his childhood in your country, the United States has sharpened its focus on the Asia-Pacific and strengthened its relationship with Indonesia. We are proud of that.
But we’re not resting on our laurels, because Indonesia’s success is important to the United States, for so many reasons.
Your example of democracy is an inspiration to countries like Myanmar. We hope others will follow it.
Your youthful population positions Indonesia for even stronger growth in the coming decades.
Your geographic position connecting the Pacific and Indian Oceans places your country at a uniquely vital crossroads.
And your economy – the biggest in ASEAN – makes it an important destination for American companies and investors. American companies have a long history of partnership with Indonesia to which they remain committed.
Between 2004 and 2012, U.S. businesses invested more than $65 billion in Indonesia, making the United States Indonesia’s largest investor – larger than Japan, Korea, or China.
U.S. companies directly employ about 200,000 Indonesians. More importantly, the overall impact of their presence has meant an additional 1.7 million Indonesian jobs.
President Jokowi’s October visit to the U.S. generated over $20 billion in deals and investments. Those are not empty promises by politicians; they are real projects creating real jobs in both our countries, increasing access to energy, and improving the lives of our citizens.
The fact that our two-way goods trade last year was only about $27 billion means that there is considerable room for growth. We want to see that number grow. Our companies want to be able to invest more in Indonesia.
That’s why there’s enthusiasm for your administration’s fight against corruption and for good governance. That creates the right conditions for investment.
That’s why there’s enthusiasm for your administration’s economic reform efforts – for streamlining the bureaucracy and eliminating conflicting and overlapping regulations.
That’s why President Jokowi’s announcement of Indonesia’s interest in joining TPP was so important.
That’s why we are pleased to welcome you here, Mr. Vice President. These are all signs that Indonesia is raising its game to contribute and to compete, both regionally and globally.
When President Obama visited in Jakarta in 2010, we launched the U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership, and when President Jokowi visited here last October we upgraded it to a Strategic Partnership.
Now, our countries work together on regional and global challenges, such as maritime security, infectious diseases and public health, and on fighting terrorism and countering violent extremism – a pressing challenge where Indonesia has much to offer.
USINDO is a key player in the Strategic Partnership, working to expand the non-government track. We welcome your efforts to tap the strength of civil society in our two countries, particularly the Council on Religion and Pluralism, an innovative bilateral mechanism designed to promote pluralism and respect.
Our record of growing cooperation is a good news story, and I have some good news for all of you: I’m going to stop talking and let you eat!
Mr. Vice President, thank you for honoring us with your visit. Enjoy the rest of your visit to Washington.