Mari Elka Pangestu, professor of international economics at the University of Indonesia and board member of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Jakarta, joined the Peterson Institute for International Economics as a distinguished visiting fellow in October 2023. Her current research focuses on the challenges for the current international order for developing countries, issues around regional economic integration in East Asia, and climate and development.
She served most recently as the managing director of Development Policy and Partnerships at the World Bank (March 2020–23) and was Indonesia's minister of trade from 2004 to 2011 and minister of tourism and creative economy from 2011 to 2014. As minister of trade she oversaw Indonesia's negotiations at the multilateral level (Doha Round and the World Trade Organization), regional level (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations [ASEAN] and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership [RCEP]), and bilateral negotiations (amongst others, Japan, the European Union, Australia, and Korea). As minister of tourism and creative economy, she spearheaded the creative economy framework in Indonesia. For her government service she was awarded the Mahaputra Award (highest order for public service awarded by the president of the Republic of Indonesia) in 2013.
She has had over 30 years of experience in academia, second track processes, international organizations, and government, working in areas related to globalization, international trade, investment, and sustainable development in multilateral, regional, and national settings. She has done research and written papers on foreign direct investment, trade, policy reforms, and development issues focusing on Indonesia as well as with an ASEAN and global focus. Some of her recent publications include Indonesia in the New World: Globalisation, Nationalism and Sovereignty (2018), edited with Arianto Patunru and Mohammad Chatib Basri; Integrated and Connected Seamless ASEAN Economy (2019), edited with Ponciana Intal; China-US Trade War: an Indonesian perspective (2019); Is the Multilateral Trading System Fit for Purpose (Bretton Woods Committee, 2019); and Handbook on East Asian Economic Integration (2021), edited with Fukunari Kimura, Shandre Mugan Thangavelu, and Christopher Findaly.
She was the George Ball Adjunct Professor at the School of International Public Affairs (SIPA), Columbia University, in 2015, and continues to be an adjunct senior research scholar at SIPA. She has been honorary professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, since 2018. She also received an honorary doctorate from the Australian National University in 2013.
Pangestu is a highly regarded international expert on a range of global issues and has served on a number of boards and task forces such as the Task Force on Poverty and Development, UN Millennium Project (2001–03), with Jeffrey Sachs; the Board of Trustees of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington as chairperson (2018–20); and the Sustainable Ocean Economy as co-chair of the Ocean Panel Expert Group (2018–20). She is currently an international board member of the World Resources Institute (WRI).
She has played a leadership role in various second track processes, such as the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) where during 1991–2000 she led the Trade Policy Forum and contributed to the APEC processes. She has had many engagements with the private sector, including serving as an executive board member of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) (2016–20), on various agenda councils and leading sessions of the World Economic Forum, and as adviser to the chambers of commerce in Indonesia and ASEAN. She has also served on the board of a number of private sector companies and currently serves as the non-executive director of AIA, the largest insurance company in Asia.
She obtained her bachelor's and master's degrees in economics from the Australian National University and her doctorate in economics from the University of California at Davis, where she wrote her dissertation on The Effect of Oil Shocks on a Small Oil Exporting Country: The Case of Indonesia.