The Leaderboard: Muhammad Lutfi

The Leaderboard profiles the people behind the policies of the Asia-Pacific.Who is he?

Muhammad Lutfi is Indonesia’s new trade minister. He previously served as ambassador to Japan from 2010 to 2013, and as chairperson of the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board from 2005 to 2009. He was named one of the world’s most influential leaders by the World Economic Forum in 2008.

Muhammad Lutfi is Indonesia's new trade minister. Source: Wikimedia, used under a creative commons license.

Muhammad Lutfi is Indonesia’s new trade minister. Source: Wikimedia, used under a creative commons license.

Why is he in the news?

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono appointed Lutfi trade minister on February 14 to replace Gita Wirjawan, who stepped down to run for the Democrat Party’s nomination as a presidential candidate in the July elections. Lutfi was an effective ambassador to Japan, where he focused on increasing bilateral investment. The Indonesian Employers’ Association, among others, has supported Lutfi’s appointment, describing him as a “capable figure.”

What can we expect from him?

Lutfi has said he will focus on combating inflation and stabilizing prices through infrastructure and supply chain improvements. It is unclear if he can deliver on these points, considering the substantial challenges he faces and the limited amount of time he will have in office. A new president will take office in October, at which time Lutfi will probably be replaced.

Lutfi also comes into office with slower, albeit recovering, economic growth, a worrisome current account deficit , and a weak currency. These obstacles will limit how much positive change he can hope to create before October.

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