Trade Minister Thomas Lembong says he is optimistic that Indonesia's trade performance will improve this year, in line with the improving trend of the global economy. To improve trade, he said Indonesia will transform its business model through e-commerce.
Thomas said that even though the Chinese economy was still weakening, the recovery in Europe and the US economies would make a positive impact on Indonesia's trading activities.
"In 2015, I was quite wary and concerned. In 2016 I become more optimistic. We have been through a lot of challenges and the government has been more consolidated amid some developments in the global economy," said Thomas at the Trade Ministry in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Furthermore, he said that the sluggish Chinese economy and commodity prices had been affecting Indonesian exports. However, he made assurances that exports would increase in line with the business model transformation.
"Regarding the sluggish commodity prices, we must change the business models. We must be vigorous and agile [to make] more stable conditions. We must see the trend," he said.
E-commerce, he continued, was one of the business sectors that had great potential to be developed as affordable smartphones allowed consumers to access the digital world and international trade.
"How do we take the advantages of smartphones and the social media revolution to trade? [To be] more outwardly progressive and to foster business opportunities to grab markets abroad, we should not be defensive and afraid," Thomas said.
At the other hand, he said the government would also strengthen domestic conditions through price controls on food to maintain inflation. Thomas said that in a plenary Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had instructed him and the agriculture minister to control inflation.
"Inflation, of course, is contributed to by food and agriculture prices. We must be alert and work hard to maintain a safe level of stocks, especially of staple food," he told, adding that the possibility of a prolonged El Niño would affect agricultural output.