As the U.S. tries to arrest a deteriorating trade balance with Indonesia, which last year found itself in President Donald Trump’s cross-hairs, Donovan has also rejected complaints of increasing American protectionism. Indonesia had made significant progress on macroeconomic stability, improving the business environment, education and infrastructure, yet more must be done to encourage trade as well as foreign investment, he said.
“Those that caution the United States about being trade protectionist, I would respectfully suggest that they look at their own markets and they might find a good deal of ingrained protectionism there," he said in an interview on Feb. 14 in Jakarta.
Indonesian officials such as Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati have consistently criticized the protectionist tone sounded by Trump, who last year accused a host of nations, including Indonesia, of potentially abusing their trade relationship with the world’s biggest economy. Since then, the U.S. trade deficit with Indonesia has worsened to $13.3 billion from $13.2 billion in 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Indonesia’s economy has been growing at about 5 percent. At the same time, however, the government has been struggling for revenue to fund Widodo’s ambitious infrastructure plans.
Indonesia had made progress in terms of ease of doing business and was seeking to better manage imports, as well as targeting export growth of 11 percent in 2018.