JAKARTA – US Vice President Mike Pence announced on Friday the signing of 11 agreements worth around $10 billion between American and Indonesian companies working in energy and defense sectors, toward the end of his visit to the archipelago.
The agreements include the sale of natural gas by ExxonMobil to Indonesian oil firm Pertamina, Lockheed Martin equipment for Indonesian F-16 fighter jets and the building of electricity infrastructure by a General Electric-led consortium.
“We think there are opportunities to clear open the way for American companies to participate more greatly in Indonesia,” Pence said during a meeting with the business fraternity in Jakarta.
Pence, who was accompanied by his Indonesian counterpart Jusuf Kalla, reiterated his appeal to Jakarta to carry out the reforms necessary to ensure free and fair trade between the two countries, ruing the hurdles that US firms continue to face in Indonesia over property issues and lack of transparency, among others.
Indonesia has a trade surplus of around $13 billion with the US; it is also one of the 16 nations whose “trade imbalance” with Washington needed to be looked into, US President Donald Trump had said in early April.
Bilateral trade between the two countries reached $29 billion in 2016, with Indonesian exports consisting mainly of footwear, textiles, fishery products and natural resources, and those of the US focusing on aviation, soybean products and machinery.
Indonesia is also embroiled in several disputes with American companies, such as mining firm Freeport, which it demands should give up 51 percent of its stake in copper and gold deposits on the island of Papua.
Later on Friday, Pence will fly out to Australia on the last leg of his 10-day visit to the Asia-Pacific region.