Indonesia continues to cooperate with the United States over maritime issues and laws governing the oceans. The Indonesian government held the 2nd Indonesia-United States Oceans Law and Maritime Policy Dialogue in Jakarta on March 29. The first meeting was held in 2016. The goal of these meetings is to understand each country’s policies toward ocean issues. The representatives of the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and Ministry of Foreign Affairs attended the meeting and signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU). Before this dialogue, the United States had already invited Indonesia to the Safe Ocean Network Steering Committee, while Indonesia also invited the United States to the ASEAN Regional Marine Forum Litter Project. During this dialogue, representatives from the two countries discussed the maintenance of the USS Houston cruise ship that sank during in World War II, countermeasures for illegal activities, and solutions for sea waste issues.
For the United States, the location of Indonesia is important because it is the world’s largest archipelagic country with around 17,500 islands, and is located within essential trade routes. For this reason, Indonesian President Joko Widodo first met the president of the United States in October 2015 to discuss maritime issues. That meeting achieved important outcomes for both countries including strengthening coordination on diplomatic, security, and economic issues. While the United States and Indonesia have cooperated since Jakarta’s independence in 1949, they have increasingly tried to deal with global challenges.
Most significantly, in September 2017, the US and Indonesian navies gathered for the 23rd iteration of a skills exchange called Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT). This exchange took place in Surabaya and in the waters and airspace of the Java and Bali Seas. Indonesia has been part of CARAT since 1995. The goal of this training is to enhance maritime security cooperation between the two countries. In 2017, more than 300 US Marines participated in CARAT to help Indonesia develop its ability to protect its resources.
Yeseul Oh is a Research Intern at the East-West Center in Washington D.C. and an Asan Washington Young fellow with the Asan Academy in Seoul. She is a student of Kyunghee University in South Korea