(Corrects trade figures in 4th para)
* Pence wants "win-win relationship" with Indonesia
* Indonesia one of 16 countries with US trade surplus under
* Indonesia has series of disputes with U.S. companies
* The two countries agree to continue strategic partnership
By Roberta Rampton
JAKARTA, April 20 U.S. Vice President Mike Pence
said on Thursday his administration wants fairer trade with
Indonesia, as Washington reviews a number of countries with
which it has trade deficits.
After meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Pence
said Washington was interested in a "win-win relationship" with
Southeast Asia's biggest economy.
Indonesia is one of 16 countries under review for having a
trade surplus with the United States.
Official data from Indonesia's trade ministry puts total
trade between the two countries at $23.44 billion in 2016, with
Indonesia recording a surplus of $8.84 billion. Indonesia mainly
exports textiles, footwear and seafood and mainly imports
aircraft, machinery and soybeans from America.
Pence also called for cooperation on fighting terrorism and
maintaining freedom of navigation in the region.
Pence arrived in Jakarta late on Wednesday from Japan where
he reassured Tokyo of a U.S. commitment to rein in North Korea's
nuclear and missile ambitions.
Washington had billed Pence's visit to Jakarta as a booster
for a strategic partnership between the world's second- and
third-largest democracies, but a raft of bilateral disputes with
U.S. companies could sap the goodwill from his trip.
Over the past six months, Indonesia has wrestled with mining
giant Freeport McMoRan, demanding the company divest 51 percent
of its shares in its Papua-based gold and copper mine, and has
demanded that Google Inc. settle unpaid taxes of more than $400
million. Jakarta also deleted JP Morgan from its list of primary
bond dealers after what was deemed a negative research report.
Google declined to comment for this report and JPMorgan did
not respond to a request for comment.
Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama said: "This visit
is happening entirely independent of our current negotiations
with the government of Indonesia."
However, billionaire investor Carl Icahn, Freeport's
third-biggest shareholder and special adviser to U.S. President
Donald Trump, has described Jakarta's tactics over the mining
contract as "disingenuous and insulting", according to the New
As leader of the world's most populous Muslim nation, Widodo
has voiced worries about Trump's immigration policy, which
critics say is biased against Muslims.
Pence is visiting Indonesia a day after the Indonesian
capital Jakarta elected a new Muslim governor who rode a wave of
conservative Islamist to defeat an incumbent Christian on trial
charged with blasphemy against the Koran.
Pence was later on Thursday due to visit Southeast Asia's
largest mosque, the Istiqlal mosque, where hardline Islamic
groups on Wednesday night celebrated the election win.
Widodo's approach to foreign policy has been led more by
economic interests than geopolitical considerations: he has
pursued increased trade and investment from China but keeps a
diplomatic distance from Beijing and established a strategic
partnership with Washington under former President Barack Obama.
Widodo said at the joint news conference with Pence that the
two countries would "increase the strategic partnership... which
will focus on cooperation and investments".
He said over the next month the two sides will form a team
to discuss the "management of bilateral trades and investment
based on the principle of a win-win solution".
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by Bill Tarrant; Editing
by Michael Perry)