Indonesia intends to join TPP, says President Jokowi

US President Barack Obama (right) meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the White House on Oct 26, 2015.
US President Barack Obama (right) meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the White House on Oct 26, 2015.PHOTO: EPA

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has announced in Washington that his country intends to join the 12-nation mega free trade pact known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

In brief remarks after his meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on Monday local time (Oct 26), the Indonesian leader - often known as "Jokowi" - confirmed growing speculation that the country wanted to be part of the deal.

"Indonesia is an open economy, and with the 250 million population, we are the largest economy in South-east Asia.  And Indonesia intends to join the TPP," he said in Bahasa.

This is the first time Mr Jokowi has publicly confirmed Indonesia's interest in the TPP, though officials have been making similar remarks of late.

Negotiators only recently concluded multi-year talks on the trade deal which includes countries like the US, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam. The conclusion of the deal is dependent on the domestic legislatures of the 12 members ratifying the agreement.

Only after the deal is done and dusted will new prospective members like Indonesia and South Korea be considered.

During their meeting, the US and Indonesian leaders also reaffirmed ties between the two countries and pledged to work together on a range of issues, from climate change to counter terrorism.

The two sides also set up a new ministerial level strategic dialogue led by the US secretary of state and the Indonesian foreign minister.

Mr Obama and Mr Jokowi also discussed the current haze problem, with the US offering to help Indonesia deal with the problem.

"Whether it's helping Indonesia deal with the current difficulties surrounding peat fires, or it is encouraging ongoing student exchanges between our two countries, this meeting I think signifies our taking this partnership to the next level," said Mr Obama.

The visit is Mr Jokowi's first to the US, but he is cutting it short to return home to deal with the haze problem at home.