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April 24, 2017

Pence announces $10 bn in deals on Indonesia trip

Pence announces $10 bn in deals on Indonesia trip
'US Vice President Mike Pence announced $10bn in deals between American and Indonesian companies including Exxon Mobil, General Electric, and Lockheed Martin' - By: POOL MAST IRHAM

Jakarta (AFP) - US Vice President Mike Pence announced $10 billion in deals between American and Indonesian companies during a visit to Jakarta Friday, as he pushed for greater access to Southeast Asia's top economy.

Eleven deals were signed. Energy firm Exxon Mobil, General Electric, and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin were among the American companies involved in the agreements.

"These deals represent the tremendous excitement that American companies feel about opportunities in Indonesia,” said Pence.

Exxon Mobil will sell liquefied natural gas to Indonesian state-owned energy company Pertamina, General Electric will provide technology for Indonesian power plants, while Lockheed Martin will provide new weapons systems for F-16 fighter jets.

During the visit to Indonesia, his latest stop on an Asia tour, Pence has been pushing to help US firms who want to do business in Indonesia -- one of several countries targeted by Donald Trump's administration for running a trade surplus with the US.

During a meeting at a Jakarta hotel Friday where the deals were announced, Pence told business leaders that he and President Joko Widodo had "very candidly and very respectfully" discussed how to improve market access for US firms in Indonesia when they held talks.

He said earlier on the visit that Washington wanted to "break down barriers" for exporters seeking to enter the Indonesian market.

Indonesia has long been targeted by foreign investors, as it has enjoyed robust growth in recent years, driven by exports of its key commodities even as many developed countries have struggled.

The country of 255 million people is home to a rapidly growing middle class and an army of consumers whose spending power is increasing.

But Indonesia can be a notoriously difficult place to do business due to nationalistic policies, complex bureaucracy and problems with corruption, and foreign firms have often run into trouble.

The latest example of a US company facing problems is a row between the government and mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, which runs a huge gold and copper mine in Indonesia, after authorities demanded they obtain a new licence to operate.

Pence departed Indonesia Friday for the next stop on his tour, Australia. He has already visited South Korea and Japan on a trip that is aimed at smoothing some of the rougher edges of Trump's rhetoric.

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