INDONESIA: No harm to trade or relations seen

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump's disrespectful remarks about Muslims may have angered many in Indonesia, but a Trump presidency will not harm trade or political relations between the two countries.

Mr Gusmardi Bustami, who heads independent local research institution Trade Policy Forum, said Mr Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric was only a ploy to garner more votes but would not translate into protectionist measures by the United States.

"The US is always open to markets abroad while creating employment in its own country," he said, adding that Asean countries are very important to the United States for trade and political purposes. "Since Indonesia is the biggest in Asean, the US will not disturb or hurt us," he added.

Officials noted that President Joko Widodo's visit to Washington last October showed a "positive, comprehensive partnership" between the two countries and offered many investment opportunities.

"I don't think Trump, being a businessman, will close the door on us," said Ms Shinta Widjaja Kamdani, vice-chair for international relations at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin).

But many Indonesians hope US voters will support the "more friendly" Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton. They believe she understands Indonesia better and will continue President Barack Obama's work.

Mr Hikmahanto Juwana, University of Indonesia's international law professor, said: "We all leave it to the Americans, but we want to tell them that in exercising their voting rights, they must look outwardly as the US has a global influence."

Arlina Arshad

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 15, 2016, with the headline 'INDONESIA: No harm to trade or relations seen'. Print Edition | Subscribe