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Indonesia to continue easing restrictions on foreign investors: President Widodo

President Joko Widodo said Indonesia’s investment climate is still not conducive enough and the country needs to deregulate more.

SAN FRANCISCO: Indonesia will continue opening up its market, making it easier for foreign investors to enter the country.

Speaking to about 300 business leaders and other stakeholders at an ASEAN Economic Community conference in San Francisco on Wednesday (Feb 17), President Joko Widodo said even though Indonesia is doing more to attract investments, and announced a number of deregulation packages, he is still not satisfied.

“I’m not satisfied; please understand we are still only at the beginning," he said. "We will continue to simplify, continue to open up, continue to modernise our rules and regulations. There are still many excessive permits, licenses, and protections."

Mr Widodo gave a key note address at the conference after attending the US-ASEAN Leaders Summit in Sunnylands which ended on Tuesday. He said Indonesia’s investment climate is still not conducive enough and the country needs to deregulate more.

Last week, the government announced its 10th economic stimulus package where 35 industrial sectors were removed from the negative investment list.

Sectors like cold storage, sports centres, and tourism will now be allowed to have 100 per cent foreign ownership. Mr Widodo explained what Indonesia is doing is implementing supply-side reforms.

He said that the concept was first introduced by former US President Ronald Reagan and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

“Together they deregulated the American and British economies, they freed businesses, and industries from excessive rules and regulations," said Mr Widodo. "Today we must do the same in the emerging markets."

Indonesia’s moves to further deregulate policies was welcomed by American businesses. Chairman for the US-ASEAN Business Council Keith Williams said when companies are making a decision to invest overseas they consider a variety of factors which includes the friendliness of the regulatory system.

“Any country can make efforts to make their legal system transparent, and reliable," he said. "To make their financial system transparent, and reliable; to make their regulatory system appropriate, it will really foster foreign investment."

After speaking at the conference, Mr Widodo travelled to Silicon Valley to visit tech giants such as Facebook, Google, and Plug and Play.

In October 2015, Mr Widodo had to cut short his visit to the US to attend to the forest fires and haze crisis in Indonesia.