Business

S'pore firms have skills matching Jakarta's needs

S'pore, Indonesia leaders highlight need for deeper economic links


Singapore has long been Indonesia's top investor and that fruitful collaboration can be strengthened in sectors like tourism, infrastructure and developing a digital economy, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

Mr Lee said the need for deeper economic links between both countries has grown more significant as technological disruption opens up new opportunities, even as it generates uncertainty and fierce competition for companies.

He told the Singapore-Indonesia Investment Forum that companies here have expertise that match Indonesia's development priorities in infrastructure development in the transport and energy sectors, for instance.

The event, which is part of efforts to mark 50 years of diplomatic relations between Jakarta and Singapore, attracted more than 600 business leaders and government representatives of both countries.

It was apt that collaboration was a key theme, with Mr Lee saying he was pleased that Indonesian President Joko Widodo is actively promoting investments from Singapore.

"We both have promising start-ups, investors, entrepreneurs, and companies in this sector see many opportunities to collaborate," he added.

"For example, we have jointly established start-up networking platforms like EV Hive... in Jakarta to cross-fertilise ideas."

Mr Joko told the forum: "We are witnessing a historic boom in e-commerce companies in Indonesia. Today, we have several... digital start-ups with a valuation of US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion). And given the size of our domestic market, we will have many more in years to come.

"Twenty years ago, Batam was for Singapore what Shenzhen was for Hong Kong."

"Twenty years ago, Batam was for Singapore what Shenzhen was for Hong Kong."Indonesian President Joko Widodo

He noted that today Batam could serve as a "digital bridge" between Singapore and many of Indonesia's fast-growing digital communities in Jakarta, Bandung, Bali and other cities.

MORE COOPERATION

Deeper bilateral and economic cooperation between Singapore and Indonesia in growing sectors such as tourism was also highlighted.

Both leaders will open discussions on a new bilateral investment treaty, which "will strengthen investors' confidence that Indonesia is open and ready for business and foreign investment", Mr Lee said.

Attracting more infrastructure investment in cruise tourism is one key area.

Mr Lee said: "Larger ships are coming into service. These ships will need new infrastructure, especially larger ports, berths and marinas. With this infrastructure in Singapore and the right infrastructure in place across the region, new cruise routes and itineraries can be opened up."

Mr Joko said both countries see "great opportunity in marine tourism".

"The continuing rise of hundreds of millions of people in China, India and the Asia Pacific into the global middle class is leading to a tourism boom of historic proportions," he added.

He said his government has implemented a 10 New Balis programme to transform 10 cities into priority tourism destinations based on Bali's success.

Mr Joko described "tremendous opportunity" for Singapore in the next year as some airports, like the Silangit aiport in Lake Toba, will become international, leading to more airline routes between Singapore and new tourism destinations.

Singapore Business Federation (SBF) chairman Teo Siong Seng said more Singapore businesses are looking to explore opportunities beyond Jakarta and Java, given that cities in the central and eastern parts are still growing rapidly and are less saturated than West Java.

The forum was organised by the SBF, the Economic Development Board, IE Singapore, the Indonesian embassy, its Investment Coordinating Board and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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