Under Secretary of Commerce For International Trade Francisco SÁnchez
“Improving the Business Climate and Business Regulation in Indonesia”
Ease of Doing Business Symposium
Monday, December 12, 2011
As prepared for delivery
Good morning and thank you all for that warm welcome.
First, let me extend my deep thanks and appreciation to Minister Rajasa for that very kind introduction. I greatly appreciate all his work in turning this event from an idea into a reality.
Allow me to also thank Ambassadors Djalal and Marciel for their contributions to the U.S. - Indonesia partnership. Finally, let me thank Stefan Koeberle and the World Bank for their valuable participation today.
This event represents the beginning of something special.
As many of you know, this is the first official gathering taking place under the newly launched U.S. – Indonesia Commercial Dialogue. Our goal is to expand the trade and investment relationship between our two countries.
This effort is chaired by Deputy Minister Rizal Lukman and U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Michael Camuñez. As I’m sure you can tell, we are all very excited about this initiative because the best progress comes through partnership. And, with this partnership, we strive to bring greater prosperity to all our citizens.
The key to this work is people. After all, people are the world’s greatest assets. Their ideas, their ingenuity and their work ethic are the foundation for every healthy economy.
And, as part of our chief mission as government leaders and policymakers, we need to give people more opportunities to turn their concepts into successful businesses.
Unfortunately — in both our countries — there are too many obstacles blocking the path to opportunity. These obstacles range from a lack of access to capital to unnecessary regulations.
So, we are here today to see what we can do to clear the path to opportunity so that our citizens and businesses can flourish. This work is helped significantly by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation.
As many of you know, they have created the “Doing Business Project.” Its goal is to improve the business climate for companies around the world. Specifically, it provides objective analysis of 183 economies and selected cities. And, it encourages them to enhance competitiveness by moving towards more efficient regulation.
The Doing Business rankings are an important tool that addresses important questions. Questions like:
- How many days does it take to open a business?
- How long does it take to register a company?
- And, what’s the process to get a construction permit?
Answering these basic questions is a key to the economic health and future of our countries. When regulatory costs are too burdensome, and too complicated, businesses are hurt.
Costs can be passed on to consumers. Jobs can be lost. Communities can see their growth slowed and stunted.
With these stakes in mind, we must all ask ourselves:
- What can we do to help businesses avoid unnecessary hurdles?
- What can we do to clear the path to opportunity for entrepreneurs?
While there are many answers to these questions, a clear starting point is for partners to come together and exchange, experiences and perspectives. And, that’s why we’re here today.
Let me take a moment to recognize Ambassador Djalal, or Ambassador Dino as I call him.
Ambassador Dino and I conceived of this conference last spring during my visit to Indonesia on an education mission. We discussed holding a high level and practical discussion of how different economies have improved their investment climate, and done so using the World Bank Doing Business Indicators as a guide.
Our idea was to convene successful reformers and hold an exchange of best practices and peer to peer discussion about common challenges and success strategies.
And, that idea has become a reality today. We want to identify the practical steps needed to spur economic growth through regulatory reforms.
We want to chart a way forward with concrete steps that will make a real difference for our respective business communities and those around the world that have a stake in our economic development.
To help us with this discussion today, you will hear from experts representing three different economies: Saudi Arabia, Korea and Hong Kong.
Each of these economies has taken significant steps to make their business processes more efficient. And, as a result, they have received high rankings on the World Bank Doing Business index.
We will also hear from a policy expert from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Secretariat. He will provide us with an overview of the APEC Ease of Doing Business initiative.
My goal is for today is to have an open and honest exchange about how governments can develop a business climate that is more efficient and more transparent.
Doing this work will help clear the path to opportunity for firms operating in our respective countries.
I want to thank the Government of Indonesia and the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs for hosting this important event.
I know it will provide useful lessons for all of us, as well as those who cannot be here today.
And, I can’t wait to get this discussion started.
But before we do, allow me to take a few minutes today to carve out a part of the program for a special presentation to a special person.
Peace through Commerce Award Presentation
Let me start by saying that all of you have been incredible partners for progress. And, on behalf of the United States, I want to thank you.
I cannot emphasize enough just how important our work together is to the United States’ international commercial initiatives. In recognition of the importance of partnerships, I relaunched an honor we call the “Peace through Commerce Medal” earlier this year.
This award was discontinued for a few years, but it has a storied history. It dates back to the first Secretary of State —Thomas Jefferson — who commissioned the medal in 1790.
Jefferson presented the award — then known as the Diplomatic Medal — as a gift to foreign diplomats who aided the Continental Congress during the American Revolution.
Well today the revolution isn’t happening on the battlefield. It’s happening in the global economy, in the way we work and do business.
Of course, the world has gotten much larger since Jefferson’s day. But if anything, peace and commerce are more interconnected than ever. Doing business across national borders improves cross-border and international understanding. And, these commercial partnerships are key in bringing economic opportunities to our peoples.
So, in places ranging from Hong Kong to India to Washington, DC, I’ve been proud to present the Peace through Commerce award to distinguished individuals who are doing great work.
And, I’m proud to do so again today in recognizing Putera Sampoerna.
Mr. Sampoerna was selected because of his efforts in promoting and developing bilateral trade.
He heads the Putera Sampoerna Foundation, which has provided over 34,000 student scholarships, developed 23 state schools and trained over 14,000 students.
Through PSF, he has dramatically increased the number of Indonesians studying in the U.S. by:
- providing scholarships and college counseling;
- and fostering partnerships and exchanges between U.S. and Indonesian institutions.
I’ve had the pleasure of seeing his valuable work up close. Earlier this year, I led the Department of Commerce’s largest-ever education mission to Indonesia, in partnership with the Putera Sampoerna Foundation.
Fifty-six U.S. higher education institutions participated in the mission, attracting thousands of prospective Indonesian students and their families.
I really could go on and on about his accomplishments. But, he has so many. And, we’d be here for days if I listed them all.
So, let me just close by saying that Mr. Sampoerna’s work to encourage Indonesia’s future leaders to study overseas — primarily in the U.S. — not only helps Indonesia, but, it also strengthens the relationship between our two countries.
And, as these U.S.-educated Indonesians emerge as leaders in government and industry, they will serve as the foundation for the partnership between our two countries for many years to come.
In recognition of:
- his years of distinguished service
- his incredible body of work
- and his firm commitment to giving young people the best possible start in life …
It’s both a pleasure and a privilege to present this Peace through Commerce Medal to Putera Sampoerna.
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