Indonesia is worried about being targeted by Donald Trump in a wider protectionist push, as trade tensions between the US and China continue to escalate, a senior minister said.
The Southeast Asian nation’s large trade surplus with the US may invite further scrutiny by the Trump administration even as the spat between the world’s two biggest economies offers potential gains to Indonesia, planning minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said.
A prolonged dispute may also weigh on Indonesia’s current account deficit, foreign inflows and currency, he said in an interview in Jakarta. World markets were rattled as China and the US announced tit-for-tat tariffs on hundreds of goods, adding to concerns about potential spillover effects for countries across Asia.
Indonesia, which last year ran a trade surplus of $10.7 billion with the US, was previously included in a probe ordered by Trump into countries suspected of abusing the trade relationship.
The country’s access to a US preferential trade programme is currently under review.
“Indonesia and China have similarities, only at a different scale. Both of us create a deficit for the US side,” Brodjonegoro said. “Now the question is, how can we approach the US so that Indonesia will not be part of their idea of trade protectionism and how can we take advantage of potential declining Chinese exports to the US.”
Indonesian officials are “intensively” lobbying the Trump administration to remain part of the Generalised System of Preferences, Brodjonegoro said. The programme is designed to promote economic development by allowing duty-free entry for thousands of products from designated beneficiary countries.
Earlier this year, the US indicated it would remove India from the programme.