Relations between Indonesia and the United States had been established long before Indonesian Proclamation of Independence in 1945. The diplomatic relations between the two, however, were officially marked by the opening of an Embassy in each of the two countries. The United States opened its Embassy in Jakarta on 28 December 1949 and appointed Horace Merle Cocrhan as the first US Ambassador to Indonesia, whereas Indonesia appointed Dr. Ali Sastroamidjojo as the first Indonesian Ambassador to the United States on 20 February 1950.
Cooperation in Political Sector
Watershed in the bilateral relations between Indonesia and the US was marked by President Barack Obama’s visit to Indonesia on 9-10 November 2010 in which the President of both countries officially launched the Indonesia-US Comprehensive Partnership (CP). Before the launching, bilateral relations between the two had been implemented through the first Indonesia-United States Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) in Washington, D.C. on 17 September 2010 which was moderated by Foreign Minister of both countries. The JCM I agreed to launch a Plan of Action for Indonesia-US Comprehensive Partnership which would be the blueprint for cooperation guidelines between the two countries as well as forming six Working Group (WG) in Democracy and Civil Society Climate and Environment; Education; Trade and Investment; Security Issue; and Energy. On the next Joint Commission Meeting (JMC) II in Nusa Dua, Bali on 24 July 2011, both Foreign Ministers declared a Joint Statement on the development of future strategic vision for Indonesia-US cooperation and discussed various cooperation potentials as well as regional issues.
Cooperation in Defense and Security Sector
Post relieving the military embargo in 2005, defense cooperation between Indonesia and the US had been improving, owing to the positive perception from the US government, military and parliament towards the reform in Indonesian National Army. US military aids to Indonesia were channeled through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program and International Military Education and Training (IMET) program with particular purposes of enhancing transport capability of the Indonesian National Army in disaster mitigation as well as improving professionalism.
Indonesia and the United States had been organizing annual military meetings since 2002. The meetings included the Indonesia-United States Security Dialog (IUSSD) and the United States-Indonesia Bilateral Defense Dialog (USIBDD) which interspersed with the IUSSD. The 11th USIBDD meeting was held in Hawaii, the United States on 7-11 February 2011, whereas the 8th IUSSD was held on 25-26 May 2010.
The Indonesian-United States defense cooperation was then cemented through signing a Letter of Intent (LoI) on Mutual Cooperation in Capacity Building and Combating Transnational Crimes in March 2011 which founded the cooperation between the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Indonesian National Police (Special Detachment 88) in eradicating terrorism. In addition, on 8 November 2010 both countries had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Capacity Building to Strengthen the Security of Biological Pathogens which founded the cooperation in capacity building training in the field of bio-security and bio-safety between the Government of the United States of America and the Republic of Indonesia in order to fortify the safety of laboratories and pathogens against any illegal access.
Cooperation in Trade, Investment and Tourism Sector
Indonesia and US total trade in 2014 reached a value of US$27.7 billion. The two countries believe that this number does not reflect the full potential given the size of Indonesia’ and the US’ size markets. This is why the two countries are committed to increase its government to government and business to business relations.
In bilateral trade cooperation, since 1998, Indonesia and the US have had “TIFA” (Trade and Investment Framework Agreement). TIFA serves as a forum to discuss issues related to trade and investment between the two countries. Under TIFA, delegations from Indonesia and the U.S. meet annually at senior official and/or Cabinet levels. The Indonesia-US TIFA has four Working Groups (WG), i.e. WG on Industrial and Agricultural Products; WG on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade; WG on Intellectual Property Rights; and WG on Investment. After the U.S.-Indonesia Comprehensive Partnership was announced 2010, the result of TIFA meetings have been shared and reported to the US and Indonesia’s Joint Commission Meeting, co-chaired by both Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Secretary of State.
The US investment in Indonesia reached a value of US$ 930.8 million in 2010 or increased by 542.7% compared to the US$ 171.5 million in 2009. The amount placed the United States as the 3rd biggest investor in Indonesia after Singapore and Britain. For the period of January-March 2011, the investment value stood at US$ 359.1 million which afforded the country as the 2nd biggest investor in Indonesia after Singapore.
Meanwhile, in order to assure the US investment in Indonesia, the Head of Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board and the Acting President of OPIC signed the Indonesia-US Investment Support Agreement-Overseas Private Investment Corporation (ISA-OPIC) on 14 April 2010 in Washington, D.C. The agreement then was ratified through the Presidential Regulation No. 48 Year 2010 issued on 19 July 2010, and it was expected to spark more interest from the US investors to invest in Indonesia.
Related to the tourism sector, in total of 171.528 US tourists visited Indonesia in 2010 entering through Indonesia’s 19 main gates. The number also meant an increase of 5.68% in total number of visitors compared to the 162.302 people in 2009.
Cooperation in Development Sector
Indonesia had been receiving the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant from the United States since 2006 with a total amount of US$ 55 million in order to fund immunization and anti-corruption programs inside the country. In December 2008 Indonesia was once again chosen to receive similar grant through the scheme of MCC Compact Program (MCC CP) for the period of 2008-2013. The MCC CP comprised the following programs: e-procurement, education and health as well as natural resources management/REDD+.
In addition, the Government of Indonesia and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) had agreed on a USAID grant which would be given through the scheme of a Strategic Plan which covers five programs, i.e. education, government and democracy, economic development, health and environment for the period of 2009-2014. Implementation of the grant was then reinforced by signing an Assistance Agreement (AA).
The Government of Indonesia also signed another USAID grant agreement on 24 September 2010. This time, the agreement constituted a grant of US$ 65.358.000 from the World Bank (as coordinator) to the National Program for Community Empowerment (NPCE) in Villages through the scheme of NPCE Support Facility Trust Fund.
Another USAID grant with an amount of US$ 371.3 million was received by Indonesia in order to assist the post-tsunami recovery and reconstruction process in Aceh. It was drafted in the Strategic Objective Grant Agreement (SOAG) to Support Tsunami Recovery and Reconstruction which was jointly signed by the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency and the USAID on 7 July 2005. It had helped funding the construction of 100km-long Banda Aceh-Calang main road as well as the development of FKIP Unsiyah.
Cooperation in Energy Sector
The cooperation between Indonesia and the United States in energy sector was marked by the organizing of Indonesia-US Energy Policy Dialog (EPD) II in Jakarta on 20-21 October 2008. The meeting covered discussion on the cooperation plan to develop renewable technology, the development of geothermal technology through the International Partnership for Geothermal Technology (IPGT), the information exchange concerning investment policy as well as capacity building. Meanwhile, the EPD III in Washington D.C. on 28-30 June 2010 addressed the issues of national energy policy, energy source development and utilization, research and development on capacity building, unconventional gas, methane to market and Human Resource development.
Indonesia-US cooperation in energy sector was greatly supported by the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) by granting US$ 1.6 million to fund the development of geothermal plan 370 MW in Halmahera and 300 MW in West Java.
Cooperation in Environmental Sector
Indonesia-US cooperation in environment sector was marked by the signing of the Debt for Nature Swap-Tropical Forest Conservation Act which worth of US$ 19.6 million on 30 June 2009 in Sumatera. Moreover, the Government of Indonesia and the United States planned to establish a Climate Change Center as an effort to mitigate the impact of climate change in Indonesia. The Center would operate for 2 year period starting on 1 July 2010. The US Government would fund the initial operational expenses which would be spent mainly on reducing emission from peat lands and forests.
Cooperation in Food Security
The Indonesia-United States Agricultural Technology and Investment Forum was organized in Jakarta on 6-7 October 2010 as a part of the Plan of Action to implement the Indonesia-US Comprehensive Partnership, particularly in food security. The forum then agreed that there needed to be a greater participation from Public Private Partnership which involved academicians in order to attain food security. Therefore, any policy and action would be decided based on credible research and study.
Cooperation in Marine Sector
Cooperation between Indonesia-United States in marine sector was founded on an MoU between the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which was drafted on 18 September 2007 and the Implementation Arrangement of the respective MoU which was signed on 10 June 2010. As a follow up, Indonesia and the United States agreed on a joint exploration using NOAA’s expedition ship, “OKEANOS EXPLORER”. In addition to the joint exploration, the two also agreed to cooperate on a sustainable fisheries management, the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) and the Maritime Partnership Program.
Cooperation in Education, Peace Corps, Science and Technology and Interfaith Dialog
Cooperation in education between Indonesia and the United States began in 1952 through the granting of Fulbright Scholarship which in its development later on was organized by the American Indonesian Exchange Foundation (AMINEF). An MoU between Indonesia and the US on AMINEF signed on 16 February 2009 regulated the technical procedure of granting the Fulbright scholarship through the mechanism of tuition waiver or remission as well as living expenses coverage while the grantee attending US higher education institutions. In addition, the Education and Training Center of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and AMINEF signed a cooperation agreement on capacity building of Indonesian diplomats on 17 December 2009.
Cooperation in education between the two was also implemented through the USINDO by signing an MoU on Educational, Social and Cultural Cooperation on 15 May 2006. The USINDO provided opportunities for Indonesian diplomats to enroll in US education institutions and also sent volunteers to teach at English language programs in Indonesia.
Meanwhile, the signing of an MoU on Peace Corps by Indonesia and the United States on 11 December 2009 marked another cooperation between the two. A number of US volunteers were sent in March 2010 to give training to English teachers in public schools and Madrasah (Islamic school) in East Java province as the implementation of the MoU. Judging from the positive result gained by the program, the United States would increase the total number of volunteers to 33 people in 2011 and 50 people in 2012 as well as decided to expand the program outside of East Java province.
In response to the US President Barack Obama’s speech at Al-Azhar University, Cairo on 4 June 2009 proposing a fight against negative stereotype towards Islam, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promptly declared the Government of Indonesia’s commitment to bridge the Islamic world and the West during his speech at Harvard University on 29 September 2009. From that point forward, the two countries agreed to unite all the related parties in the region in an Interfaith Dialog between Indonesia and the United States which was held on 25-27 January 2010. The meeting resulted in a number of cooperation pointers which were later drafted in the Shared Concerns and Commitments Indonesia-US Interfaith Cooperation. As a follow up action, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs then arranged academicians, religious figures and society figures to give public lectures on Democracy and Moderate Islam in Indonesia at several US universities (Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco) on 8-12 November 2010.
A cooperation agreement in Science and Technology was signed by both countries in Jakarta on 29 March 2010. It renewed the similar agreement which had expired in 2002. The agreement constituted an MTA (Material Transfer Agreement) and verses on the protection of Intellectual Property Rights of GRTK (Genetic Resources and Traditional Knowledge). As an implementation of the agreement, Dr. Bruce Alberts (US Science Envoy) visited Indonesia with the missions of identifying cooperation potentials in research and technology and forming a Joint Work Group in Education.
The US Embassy also participated in encouraging understanding and friendship among Indonesian and American youth by opening a US cultural center, @america, in the 3rd Floor of Pacific Place Mall, Jakarta on 6 December 2010. @america become the only US cultural center in the world where visitors would be able to watch various advance multimedia and interactive broadcast about the American way of life.