U.S. President Joe Biden will visit with Indonesian President Joko Widodo this week, and reports say the two are expected to discuss a potential partnership on electric vehicle (EV) batteries.
In a Monday visit to the White House, Indonesian President Widodo, often colloquially referred to as Jokowi, is expected to discuss the potential for a battery minerals partnership with Joe Biden, according to three people familiar with the matter in a report to Reuters on Sunday.
Front and center at the meeting will be mutual hopes for a nickel supply partnership from Indonesia, though the Biden administration has expressed some concerns about a potential deal in the past.
According to one of the sources, the White House is addressing environmental, social and governance standard-related concerns in regard to a contract with Indonesia, and consultations with legal and labor experts are expected to occur in the weeks to come.
“There’s a lot of work to do before we are able to formally announce negotiations on a critical minerals partnership,” the source said.
Another one of the sources added that “the overall momentum is promising, but (we) don’t want to minimize the fact that there is a fair amount of work to be done here.”
In April, Indonesian minister Luhut Pandjaitan spoke about the country’s aim for a limited free trade agreement with the U.S. over crucial battery minerals like nickel. In September, Indonesia requested that the U.S. cover some of its exports in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) through a trade deal.
Indonesia is home to the world’s largest nickel reserves, and the majority of the country’s nickel is processed into crude metal, though the need for the metal in EV batteries is also growing as the world adopts battery-electric technology at increasing rates.
Global market value for nickel was estimated to have ballooned to $33.5 billion last year, although the current market is still oversupplied as the EV industry continues to emerge.
The country has also been in regular discussions with U.S. EV maker Tesla several times in the past about building an auto factory in the country, and it has reportedly offered incentives to other automakers, including the Chinese automaker BYD.