Indonesia’s President Reassures Investors Economy Is Top Priority

As protests against a U.S. made anti-Islam video continue across the world, the president of Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population, seeks to reassure investors that all steps will be taken to ensure stability and promote economic growth in his country.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Bay Ismoyo | AFP | Getty Images
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is in the U.S. to attend the United Nations General Assembly told CNBC’s Maria Bartimoro that Indonesia respected freedom of speech and was committed to nurturing democratic traditions.

“We will continue to nurture our democracy because democracy should also bring benefit to the people and stability. And with stability we can build our economy,” Yudhoyono said.

Violent protests against the controversial filmposted on YouTube have spread across the Muslim world. In Indonesia as well there have been anti-U.S. demonstrations, which made the U.S. shut its embassy temporarily in the capital Jakarta on Friday.

“I have to assure you that we are responsible and will ensure that all embassies can accomplish their missions in Indonesia,” Yudhoyono told CNBC.

He added that the recent protests were because of a clash of different views and the only way forward was to respect different religions and cultures. “We have to live together, in a better atmosphere,” he said.

The president added that Indonesia would continue to make the country investor-friendly and could not afford to let social unrest come in the way of growth.

Indonesia has been one of the bright spots in the global economy that’s struggling with a synchronized slowdown in the U.S., Europe and China, having grown a higher-than-expected 6.4 percent in the second quarter.

The Southeast Asian nation, the world’s sixteenth-largest economy, could surpass Germany and the U.K. by 2030 and become the world’s seventh-largest, according to consulting firm McKinsey last week.

While in New York, Yudhoyono is expected to meet up with foreign investors to convince them that doing business with Indonesia will be good for them. “We are building more infrastructure and offer lot of opportunities in agriculture and in industry across the country,” he said.

Yudhoyono added there has to be a “dramatic increase” in investment to offset exports, which have been declining, and the best way to do that is to ensure there is stability in the country.

“We are doing our best to maintain growth with greater certainty and predictability. …We are improving our investment climate,” he said.

Yudhoyono expects the economy to keep its momentum into the next year growing at 6.5 percent, driven largely by domestic consumption.

By CNBC’s Jean Chua.