October 21, 2015 / 6:49 PM / 3 years ago

Indonesia to woo American investment in e-commerce sector

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia’s biggest e-commerce companies will meet high-profile Silicon Valley venture capitalists next week, a cabinet minister said, when they accompany President Joko Widodo on a U.S. trip to woo investment in the country’s fledgling tech sector.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo salutes during celebrations for Indonesia's 70th Independence Day at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Beawiharta

Widodo, who just marked a year in office, is keen to attract much-needed foreign investment to kickstart Southeast Asia’s largest economy, which has been growing at its slowest pace in six years.

Start-ups like Gojek, a motorcycle taxi hailing app, and Tokopedia, an online store, will be among over five companies seeking investments of hundreds of millions of dollars from firms like Sequoia, Communications Minister Rudiantara said.

“The president’s visit to Silicon Valley is a totally different ballgame to his visit to the east coast of the U.S.,” Rudiantara told Reuters in an interview.

He said the visit to the world-renowned tech hub was aimed specifically at attracting private sector investment.

Widodo’s visit to California will come after meetings with President Barack Obama, U.S. congressional leaders and executives from energy and mining companies in Washington.

Indonesia recently announced it is considering revising its negative investment list to allow foreign investment in the e-commerce sector. Rudiantara declined to comment on how much foreign ownership would be allowed.

The country currently allows no foreign investment in the local e-commerce industry, which analysts predict will be the region’s largest by 2020, on the back of a voracious appetite for Internet use in Indonesia.

Indonesians are among the most active users in the world of social media websites like Facebook and Twitter.

In California, Widodo is also scheduled to meet Apple (AAPL.O) CEO Tim Cook as well as executives from Google (GOOGL.O), Facebook (FB.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O).

Apple is looking to invest in sustainable tin mining in Indonesia, the world’s biggest tin exporter, and in setting up research and development facilities there, according to cabinet ministers.

U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake told reporters earlier on Wednesday that a wide range of agreements was set to be signed by Widodo and Obama next week to “expand cooperation in maritime, energy and defense sectors”.

Reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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