Witnessed by Indonesian and United States government officials, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) inaugurated Thursday the new executive board of the chamber's newly revitalized committee on the United States to facilitate better communication between business communities from both countries.
Sofyan Wanandi, the acting chairman of Kadin's committee on the U.S., also inaugurated the committee's executive board, which will be responsible for its daily operations.
The committee itself was first established in 1977 but is now being revitalized to meet new challenges.
Mandala Air president director Diono Nurjadin was appointed president of the committee, with vice presidents including Airlangga Hartarto, Andru Subowo, Betti Alisyahbana and Tony Chen.
"The U.S. is still the world's biggest economy. So, it is important for us to revitalize the committee. We believe there is still a wealth of untapped business opportunities between the two countries," Sofyan, who is also the chairman of the Indonesian Employers Association, told reporters.
Sofyan said the committee would hold a monthly breakfast meeting with key guests, including government officials and business players from both countries, to discuss pressing issues related to Indonesia-U.S. trade and investment activities.
The committee is also expected to participate in actions taken under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between the two countries that was revamped during Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu's visit to the U.S. in March last year.
Furthermore, the committee will also serve as a lobby group on U.S. businesses, government and even congress for the interests of local businesses and vice versa.
Among the current concerns of U.S. business players here, Sofyan said, were the negative investment list stipulated in the Investment Law and issues relating to the mandatory corporate social responsibility program in the new Companies' Law.
"The committee can act as a liaison in the preparation of the implementing regulations with the government," he said.
Speaking at the inauguration, the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Indonesia Cameron Hume said he hoped the committee would promote mutual understanding between the business sector and the government.
"Indonesia is on the right path to more a democratic and transparent government, and committed on the economy, which is a good thing."
"But there is still some more work to be done. For example, strengthening the rule of law and respect for contracts, cutting red tape, developing a more business friendly labor policy," Hume said.
Hume also highlighted the need to focus on educating the workforce so that they could compete in the global economy.
Following the trade minister's visit last year, the committee and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has sponsored a study to explore the possibility of establishing an Indonesia-U.S. free trade agreement
Trade Minister Mari said that the study conducted by the Institute for International Economy indicated that it would be beneficial for both countries to establish such a trade arrangement.
"But it is going to be difficult for Indonesia to meet the investment climate required," she said.