Bush visit to boost investors confidence in Indonesia: economist

Jakarta (Antara News) - US President George Walker Bush`s visit to Indonesia could increase foreign investors` confidence in Indonesia, economist Umar Juoro said.

"Bush`s visit could make foreign investors -- those intending to come here and those who already operate in the country -- more confident about doing business in Indonesia," Umar said here on Monday.

Although there were pros and cons around Bush`s visit, Indonesia stood to gain from the visit by the top leader of the US as a super power, he said.

"Bush`s visit will yield economic advantages, especially in helping convince foreign investors," he said.

He said Indonesia was still in desperate need of more investment which had so far been minimal due to the poor investment climate.

Asked about the possibility Bush`s visit meant US economic pressure on Indonesia in connection with the interests of some of the US energy and mining companies operating in the country, he said the Indonesian government should be able to safeguard the country`s interests through negotiations.

"Of course, President Bush will promote US companies` business interests in Indonesia, in particular in the oil, gas and mining sectors. However, if we can negotiate to reach balanced deals, it will be no pressure," he said.

A number of US multinational companies have heavily invested in the gas, oil and mining sector in Indonesia. The US major companies include ExxonMobil, ConocoPhilips and Chevron in the oil and gas sectors, and New York-based Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold Inc. in the copper and gold mining sector in Papua.

Umar also reminded the Indonesian government that it must be able to negotiate balanced deals if President Bush asked Indonesia to support his idea of establishing a free trade area in Asia and the Pacific.

During his six-hour visit to Indonesia starting Monday afternoon, President Bush will hold a bilateral talk with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the Bogor presidential palace.

They will discuss several topics such as cooperation in education, health and bio-fuel development. However, the two leaders are also expected to touch on the issues of terrorism, Palestine and Iraq.(*)
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