2018 letter from the president
By Brian Arnold, President, AmCham Indonesia
Thursday, December 6, 2018
This is a bittersweet letter for me to me write as I prepare to step down as president of AmCham Indonesia, after first taking up the role in early 2014. This has been a rewarding several years for me as we have seen great growth and development in our activities and perspective as the advocate of choice for our companies in Indonesia. While I must step down as President due to term limits, I will remain on the board and will continue to serve AmCham as an active and enthusiastic supporter.
The last few years have been hectic ones for AmCham, and 2018 was no exception. We hosted a major gala, moved offices, amended our bylaws to change our membership structure and of course continued our engagement with the Indonesian government on a regular basis.
A year ago, people were speculating that 2018 would be a quiet year for engagement with the government of Indonesia for foreign investors, as it marked the start of the political season leading up to the 2019 presidential elections. As a result, there was legitimate concern that reforms and continued openness to foreign investment might fall prey to populist appeals. Fortunately, this has largely not proven to be the case. Our engagements with the government remained robust in 2018 and our advocacy efforts have quietly made some progress on issues as diverse as patents, the Negative Investment List and the implementation of the Halal Law.
We have had good meetings in a variety of settings with virtually all of the economic cabinet ministers. Our companies have engaged closely with the Office of the Vice President on a number of thorny issues. In addition, the annual US-Indonesia Investment Summit, in partnership with the US Chamber of Commerce, remains the central bilateral private sector event of the year in Indonesia. Held in September, we welcomed seven cabinet ministers to the stage and discussion rooms including our keynote speaker, Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani Indrawati. Our annual investment Report, this year entitled “Indonesia’s Journey,” looked at the progress of reforms under President Joko Widodo since his first term began in 2014.
We also did something new for us this year by enthusiastically taking the lead organizing role for an ambitious gala dinner and business round table event on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank meetings held in Bali in October. The five private organizations that work in various ways on the US-Indonesia economic relationship joined forces for an event that succeeded beyond our expectations. I want to personally thank our partners for the Gala – the US Chamber of Commerce, the US-ASEAN Business Council, the American-Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and the US Indonesia Society.
It was our great honor to have Vice President Jusuf Kalla present the keynote remarks at the Gala dinner and to have Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan and Sri Mulyani speak at the business round table and attend the dinner alongside Bank Indonesia Governor Perry Warjiyo and BKPM Chairman Thomas Lembong. This event, “Indonesia: the Journey Forward,” was certainly one of the major highlights of my time as president of AmCham.
Before closing, I want to thank our AmCham Board of Governors, who this year helped forge new directions for us by opening up and expanding our corporate, individual and premium membership categories to more voting members. I think this will benefit AmCham for years to come and is a major outcome of a two-year evaluation and reform process the Board took on.
I would like to give special acknowledgement to our outgoing Executive Director, Sarah Howe, who has been AmCham’s chief administrator and more for the last nine years. It has been a great pleasure to work closely with Sarah over the past years and I wish her all the best in her next endeavor – she will surely be missed by us all!
I also want to give a big thanks to our Managing Director, A Lin Neumann, who helped guide our efforts all year and steered us into a new working direction by moving our offices to WeWork. The rest of our staff, from the admin team to our excellent advocacy staff, continue to do great work. Their assistance to our companies helps make AmCham what it is – so thanks to the entire AmCham team for all the hard work over the past year!
Finally, thanks also to all of you, our members, for the trust and confidence you placed in me to serve as your governor and president over the past years – it has been my great pleasure to serve.