Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will officially appoint Muhammad Lutfi as the new Trade Minister on Friday (14/02), thus replacing Gita Wirjawan who requested to step down as Trade Minister on 31 January 2014 in order to focus solely on his presidential bid. Muhammad Lutfi will only have eight months time to head the Trade Ministry because a new Indonesian government will be inaugurated in October (legislative and presidential elections are scheduled for April and July 2014).
President Yudhoyono said that Lutfi's main tasks will be to safeguard stable prices, increase the country's exports, and promote the environmental sustainability of Indonesian commodities - such as crude palm oil - through diplomatic talks with international organizations. Yudhoyono also praised the performance of former Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan in the past two years. Despite global economic turmoil, Wirjawan managed to limit the impact on Indonesia's exports thus contributing to national economic growth (with 5.78 percent of GDP growth in 2013).
Muhammad Lutfi (born in Jakarta on 16 August 1969) studied at the Purdue University in Indiana, USA. After returning back to Indonesia, Lutfi established the Mahaka Group (a company active in mining, finance and media) together with Erick Thohir, Wishnu Wardhana, and Harry Zulnardy. Between 2001 and 2004, he was Chairman of the Indonesian Young Entrepreneurs Association (HIPMI). In 2005, Yudhoyono appointed Lutfi as Head of the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) where he served until 2009 when he was appointed to the position of Ambassador to Japan and the Federated States of Micronesia (2010-2013).