US, Indonesia to explore mineral pact as Biden and Jokowi meet

Indonesia President Joko Widodo arriving at Andrews Military Base, Washington DC. Source: Joko Widodo via Twitter

The US and Indonesia are discussing the potential for cooperation on critical-mineral supplies, senior officials said ahead of a White House meeting between the two countries’ leaders.

Both sides are expected to announce a joint initiative when Presidents Joe Biden and Joko Widodo meet on Monday, according to the officials, who cautioned that the discussions are at an early stage. The talks will focus on the possibility of moving toward a critical minerals agreement between the two countries, they said.

Indonesia is the biggest source of nickel, accounting for almost half the world’s output of a key metal that’s used in high-performance batteries such as those powering electric vehicles. Jokowi, as the Indonesian leader is popularly known, is seeking to move his country higher on the EV value chain and promoting the idea of an OPEC-like alliance of nickel producers.

Biden is hosting Jokowi in Washington before this week’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco, which both leaders are scheduled to attend. One official said Biden and Jokowi will also discuss the Middle East, including a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians as well as the substantial financial resources necessary to rebuild Gaza.

Cooperation on critical minerals will need to be coupled with stringent labor and environmental standards, one official said.

The US is looking at how to help Indonesia diversify its semiconductor industry, the official said. When Vice President Kamala Harris and Jokowi met in Jakarta in September, Harris said the US will support his efforts to “expand Indonesia’s digital economy.”

For Jokowi’s White House visit, the two countries plan to announce initiatives to combat climate change, including carbon capture and storage, supporting Indonesia’s electric grid and improving air quality, the official said.

Regional security also is on the agenda, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said last week.

(By Jennifer Jacobs)


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