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WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: INDONESIAN PRESIDENT JOKO WIDODO’S VISIT TO THE UNITED STATES

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U.S. LEADERS

Barack Obama, President of the United States: “The United States has a great interest in being a partner with Indonesia, and I think our meeting todayhelped to emphasize the nature of what we believe is a key strategic partnership . . . During the course of this meeting I complimented the President on a number of the reforms that he’s initiated, and we discussed how we could continue to strengthen the trade, investment, and commercial relationships between our two countries, including the President’s interest in expanding the digital economy in Indonesia in a way that would alleviate poverty and empower millions of people in that country . . . Indonesia I think is uniquely positioned to be able to help spread a message of peace and cooperation and modernity within the Muslim world.” [10/26/2015]

John Kerry, Secretary of State of the United States, in a joint op-ed with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi: “With democracy and pluralism threatened in many countries, it is easy to overlook the transformational impact of representative government. When US President Barack Obama welcomed President Joko Widodo to the White House onMonday, our nations had an opportunity to celebrate the different paths people around the world have taken in their journeys toward freedom, independence, and democracy. In less than two decades, Indonesia has transformed from an authoritarian state to a vibrant democracy, decentralized, and increasingly lifted many of its citizens out of poverty. The country’s commitment to democracy is recognized as a potential model for countries that are struggling to emerge from the shadow of authoritarianism.” [10/27/2015]

Ambassador Michael Froman, United States Trade Representative: “Indonesia cannot be ignored. It is big, it is young, and it is dynamic. It was, of course, a welcoming home for our President, during part of his childhood. With the fourth largest population in the world, it is among the world’s most successful new democracies. Indonesia’s working-age population could reach 280 million by 2030, and 135 million middle class consumers over that same period. Indonesia is a country that understands technology. It’s home to over 150 million mobile subscribers and 80 million Internet users. I’m still getting used to using Twitter, but I’ve been told that more Tweets are sent from Jakarta than from any other city in the world. For all these reasons, Indonesia commands our attention even more today than in years past. And this is an exciting day in the next chapter of our relations, as President Jokowi visits the United States.” [10/26/2015]

Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA, 30th District): “I know that your [President Widodo’s] visit will strengthen our efforts to counter violent extremism. I applaud your efforts to work with the United States and the world against terrorism, and for the moderate Islam that comes from Indonesia that demonstrates that Islam is indeed a religion of peace.” [10/28/2015]

BUSINESS LEADERS

John Rice, Vice Chairman, General Electric: “Indonesia has been an important and strategic country for us for over 75 years and the current government’s vision and more recent plans to accelerate spending on infrastructure have given us the confidence to make this commitment. GE’s spending over the next 5 years will target critical areas important to the economy and cover power generation, oil and gas, and healthcare. Through this investment, we hope to expand our local business operations significantly, in a way that we believe will lead to a multiplier effect on the economy.” [10/26/2015]

Nadiem Makarim, Founder and CEO of Motorcycle Taxi Application Go-Jek: “I will meet with people in Washington DC and Silicon Valley to explain about startups in Indonesia . . . We want to tell them that Indonesia is a potential market for startup investment — not just India and China.” [10/24/2015]

Jim Umpleby, Caterpillar Group President with Responsibility for Energy and Transportation: “Caterpillar has operated in Indonesia for over 30 years and we are committed to our customers and partners for the long-term. We are supportive of President Widodo’s infrastructure investment plans. The commitments we are making today, in the face of difficult global economic conditions, are a vote of confidence in the potential of the Indonesian market.” [10/27/2015]

ACADEMICS, COMMENTATORS, COLUMNISTS

Karen Brooks, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Asia, Council on Foreign Relations: “As a potentially transformational leader, [President Widodo] deserves U.S. engagement and support . . . If Mr. Widodo delivers on even a portion of his infrastructure promises and continues to deregulate Indonesia’s economy and provide greater legal certainty, he has a real shot at transforming the world’s third-largest democracy into the economic powerhouse it should be.” [10/25/2015]

Philip Bowring, Former Editor, Far Eastern Economic Review: “Widodo has indicated that Indonesia could join the TPP in two years. . . He has made other efforts to remove nationalist obstacles to foreign investment, many of which are in place less for ideological reasons than as rewards for rent-seeking politicians and bureaucrats. If you know anything about Indonesia’s history as an independent nation, you would know that these are not small accomplishments . . . Joko Widodo matters to the United States not just because Indonesia has economic, let alone military power, but also because it has long rewarded investors more generously than China. The United States needs to treat the unassuming Widodo with the attention due to his country.” [10/24/2015]

The Christian Science Monitor Editorial Board: “During his recent trip to the United States, Indonesian President Joko Widodo reminded the world of why his large Muslim country in Asia sets an example: ‘Islam in Indonesia is a moderate and highly tolerant one. Thus, Indonesia offers a model of Islam that isn’t only compatible with democracy, but also with modernity.’ The war against IS can’t be fought merely as a military or theological one. It must be won with living models for young Muslims – either individuals or entire communities and countries that provide purpose and belonging.” [10/28/2015]

The Wall Street Journal Asia Edition Editorial Board: “Mr. Widodo’s proposals include measures to bolster consumer purchasing power by reducing beef import prices and relaxing the luxury tax. To stimulate investment and industry, Mr. Widodo pledges to revise 89 regulations obstructing business, accelerate land acquisition and business-permit processing, and cut the corporate-tax rate by up to seven percentage points.” [10/23/2015]

Brian Harding, Director for East and Southeast Asia, National Security and International Policy, Center for American Progress: “President Jokowi’s personal charisma provides an opportunity to demonstrate why the United States and Indonesia share so much in common . . . It is hard to imagine a more natural partner for the United States.” [10/21/2015]

William Pesek, Columnist, Bloomberg: “Convincing the nation in which he lived as a child to be the 13th TPP member marks a sweet and sentimental victory for the U.S. president. But it could be a far bigger one for Widodo, who’s known as Jokowi, and his struggling government. Jokowi is also called ‘Indonesia’s Obama.’ His charisma, man-of-the-people persona and modest upbringing endeared him, Obama-style, to the world’s fourth-biggest population. The under-30 set reveled in voting for a leader devoid of ties to dynastic families or the military, a first for Indonesia.” [10/28/2015]