Indonesia’s Chance to Capitalize on World Spotlight
As one of the world’s emerging countries, with more than 250 million people, a gross domestic product growth of about 5 percent, and a moderate Muslim-majority population with a working democracy, it seems fitting that Indonesia is again chosen to be the host of the 24th World Economic Forum on East Asia Summit.
This year’s theme — Anchoring Trust in East Asia’s New Regionalism — provides Indonesia the opportunity to take the role of a “neutral” global interlocutor in East Asia, the fastest-growing economic region in the world.
In this new world, old paradigms are challenged and important issues must be tackled — the rise of militant Islam with Islamic State, geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, Asia and Europe, low economic growth in many of the developed world, a developing world that is rising but rife with inequality, and others.
For example, how would the US, long the standard bearer for democracy and progress, protect and maintain its dominant influence with a rising China? China, flush with the world’s largest foreign-exchange reserves and aspiring to “write the rules” in Asia, has spearheaded many initiatives to increase its regional, if not global, influence.
It recently brought more than 50 countries, some of which are staunch US allies, to join its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which aims to provide infrastructure financing in Asia.
AIIB can be argued to be a challenger to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), all of which have long wielded significant influence for the US and its allies in the developing world.
While no country may want to choose between the US and China, many are hedging their bets in this changing, new world order. What role can Indonesia play in this? Seizing on the opportunity to host not just the 24th East Asia World Economic Forum, but also the 60th Commemoration of the Asia Africa conference, Indonesia is in a unique position to showcase its progress and its aspirations to the world.
Approximately 650 high-level delegations consisting of heads of state, ministers, policymakers, and C-level executives from 35 countries are expected to attend the World Economic Forum in Jakarta, April 19 to 21. Moreover, additional high-level delegations that include 30 heads of state, 109 Asian and African countries, 16 observer countries, and 25 international organizations are expected to attend the Asia Africa Conference in Jakarta and Bandung,April 19 to 24.
With so many high-level delegations in town, the WEF and the AAC are the ideal platform for Indonesia to showcase its potential to attract investments and ensures regional cooperation continues to bolster East Asia’s impressive growth more equitably and sustainably.
To attract more foreign investments and be viewed as a leader in the new world order, the new administration of President Joko Widodo must focus on creating conducive environments that include the development and improvement of hard infrastructure such as roads, ports, a reliable power source, and Information Communications Technology (ICT); the enforcement of good governance and a consistent rule of law; and the development of soft infrastructure to improve the quality of Indonesia’s human capital to ensure competitiveness in the 21st century.
The time is now for Indonesia to take the lead in facilitating constructive dialogues among the world’s senior decision-makers to enhance trust to improve regional and global cooperation and ensure a more sustainable socio-economic development in the new world.
Sonita Lontoh is an Indonesian-American executive based in Silicon Valley and is a participant in the World Economic Forum on East Asia 2015.Indonesia’s Chance to Capitalize on World
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