US, Indonesia agree to boost trade, investment links

Tue May 22, 12:29 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The United States and Indonesia are to launch a set of initiatives aimed at boosting bilateral trade and investment ties, their trade ministers said after talks here Monday.

They agreed to set up working groups to develop "specific initiatives" in areas such as intellectual property rights, agricultural and industrial goods, services and investment, said a statement from the office of US Trade Representative Susan Schwab.

"I am pleased that the United States and Indonesia made additional progress in deepening our trade and investment relationship in our meetings this week," Schwab said after talks with Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Pangestu.

Schwab and Pangestu "directed the new working groups to develop specific initiatives in these four areas to further enhance trade and investment ties between the two countries," the statement said.

The meeting was held under the US-Indonesia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), seen as a pace setter for a free trade agreement.

Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest nation, is the 31st largest trading partner of the United States.

Two-way trade totaled 16.5 billion dollars last year, a 9.3-percent increase over 2005. US foreign direct investment in Indonesia hit nearly 10 billion dollars in 2005, the latest data available.

The two ministers also discussed joint efforts to advance integration of the 10 nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Business groups from the two countries also met under the TIFA to exchange views on strengthening trade and investment links between the two countries.
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