Singapore-Indonesia set to start negotiations on investment treaty

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Both countries will also start talks on double taxation agreement

Negotiations for a bilateral investment treaty between Indonesia and Singapore will begin later this month and talks on a double taxation agreement are set to start soon.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday spoke about how the Indonesia-Singapore leaders' retreats in recent years had helped enhance bilateral cooperation.

He said: "First it gives the highest level of government, in this case our top leaders, a chance to meet, discuss things in a relaxed and informal setting, build trust, strengthen the relationship, explore ideas.

"Secondly, these retreats also convey a sense of urgency in the timetable for all the civil servants and the private sector involved in these projects."

Dr Balakrishnan was speaking to The Straits Times at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Jakarta, as he wrapped up a two-day working visit to Indonesia which included a meeting with his counterpart Retno Marsudi .

The Singapore foreign minister yesterday also met Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan and opposition coalition chief Prabowo Subianto.

On Tuesday, Dr Balakrishnan called on former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto, and they discussed regional developments as well as other issues.

Yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan and Ms Retno provided updates on the status of joint projects announced at the last two retreats .

Ms Retno said that the polytechnic Singapore was establishing with Indonesia to train workers in Semarang, in Central Java, was "77 percent ready".

The polytechnic in the joint venture Kendal Industrial Park (KIP) was first announced at the Leaders' Retreat between President Joko Widodo and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in Singapore last September.

Ms Retno yesterday also disclosed that four more tenants had signed up to operate in the KIP, bringing to 36 the total number of firms in the park.

Dr Balakrishnan said there has been more investor interest and the KIP should generate about 5,000 jobs.