18 Jan 2017

The Straits Times

By Lee Xin En

Officials laud economic relations, which are expanding quickly despite global slowdown

Even as the global economy slows, Singapore and Indonesia’s economic ties are growing quickly.

Singapore companies invested almost US$7.1 billion (S$10.1 billion) in Indonesia in the first nine months of last year, double the amount for the same period in 2015.

The growing interest in Southeast Asia’s largest economy helped to maintain Singapore’s spot as Indonesia’s top foreign investor.

These strong economic ties were feted by leaders from both countries yesterday at an event celebrating 50years of bilateral relations.

The event, held at Mandarin Orchard Singapore, was organised by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation and the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Singapore.

Dr A.M. Fachir, Indonesia’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, lauded the enduring and growing partnership between the neighbours, and reminded both countries not to forget that regional stability is a very important asset which past leaders built up with dedication.

He also gave the audience of more than 250 government officials and business leaders from both countries an overview of how the Indonesian government is improving the business environment.

The country’s World Bank ranking for the ease of doing business rose from 106 to 91 last year.

“Indonesia’s positive performance is attributed to the government policy to simplify the bureaucracy and cut the red tape,” he said.

Dr Fachir said a key focus would be on developing infrastructure, with the government allocating 346 trillion rupiah (S$37 billion) to the sector.

Singapore Trade and Industry (Trade) Minister Lim Hng Kiang urged Singapore small and medium- sized enterprises in the utilities, communications, energy and transport sectors to tap Indonesia’s focus on infrastructure.

Singapore companies should look beyond Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, for business opportunities, he added, highlighting the Kendal Industrial Park jointly developed by Indonesia’s Jababeka and Singapore’s Sembcorp.

Ties are set to deepen in the coming year, as Singapore manufacturers said Indonesia is their top choice for an overseas market to explore, according to a recent Singapore Manufacturing Federation survey.

Ms Betty Tan, executive director of Sin Cheong Containers, which makes metal cans, said that she was considering investing in Indonesia to tap the large domestic demand there.

“The cost of manufacturing is increasing and not all types of manufacturing activity can be advanced so quickly,” she said.

She already has facilities in Malaysia, but said that with taxes rising there, Indonesia was looking more attractive.

Mr Douglas Foo, president of the Singapore Manufacturing Federation, said the organisation is planning eight to nine business mission trips to Indonesia this year, with the next one to Jakarta and Bandung in March. “As more enterprises get to know about the potential and possibilities of Indonesian markets, in the future, we will go to new provinces.”

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission