FIVE delegations of top US administration officials, senators and members of Congress are visiting Indonesia next month in recognition of rapidly growing US trade and investment in this vast Southeast Asia nation. Diplomats said Washington was ready to make ''some hard choices'' and put aside fundamental differences on human rights and trade that had had Congress working overtime. Bilateral relations have been strained by the shooting of unarmed demonstrators in East Timor, a former Portuguese territory annexed by Indonesia, and the treatment of dissidents. Legislation to stop Indonesian army officers from being trained in the US was recently defeated, partly as a result of fierce opposition by Senator Bennett Johnston of Louisiana. Louisiana is the home state of Freeport-McMoran Copper and Gold, which is sitting on what Indonesia calls the world's largest known gold deposits in Irian Jaya province. More importantly, Washington is to decide in mid-February whether to suspend preferential tariffs for Indonesian goods in response to charges that Indonesian factory workers are overworked and underpaid. Although Indonesia makes up half the gross domestic product of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) - often called the world's fastest-growing region in economic terms - its percapita income is about US$600. But American business circles warn against stripping Indonesia of its preferential tariffs as it would have no impact on trade. The average tariff on the Indonesian goods covered is only four per cent, according to US trade figures. ''The Indonesians take symbolism very seriously,'' said one analyst. ''President Suharto [of Indonesia] wouldn't even have to tell companies here to stop doing business with the Americans. They would just do it.'' Instead, proposals have been put forward to give more training to Indonesian army officers to leave less chance for bloodshed. Representative Richard Gephardt of Missouri will lead seven Congress members to Indonesia from January 6 to 8. And Mr Johnston will lead a 10-member delegation from January 12 to 13. Then Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen will visit from January 16 to 17 on a regional tour to gear up for the next summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) forum. Senator John Kerry and Congressman Jim McDermott will follow later in the month, as will a Florida trade delegation. The various delegations plan to look at factories and talk to cabinet ministers and the Indonesian directors of Freeport, Caterpiller, Esso and other American companies, which have invested more than $5 billion in Indonesia. Indonesia imported $2.2 billion worth of US goods - mainly cotton, machinery and aircraft parts - this year. Indonesian exports to the US - mainly rubber, footwear, crude oil, plywood and apparel - were valued at $4.8 billion. With a population of nearly 200 million, Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim country and has obvious weight as a consumer market and a strategic political force. James Castle, a US business consultant and head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Jakarta, said the spate of visits did not appear intended to attract more investment but just to get to know the country. ''I don't think President Bill Clinton got everyone together,'' Mr Castle said. ''It's a growing realisation that Indonesia is on the map.'' In fact Indonesia with its 13,000 islands stretches 3,000 miles and controls some of the world's busiest sea lanes off Singapore, the Philippines and Australia. Mr Clinton, who is to attend the next APEC summit in Indonesia, has credited Mr Suharto with bringing together the last summit in Seattle last month. By then, according to one informed source, some compromises should have been reached in Washington to recognise that Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, ''runs according to its own rules''.