Thank you President Jokowi. I visit Indonesia regularly, but this is my first time in Semarang. I would like to thank the President for his gracious hospitality. And the people of Semarang, the Government and the province for the warm welcome.
President Jokowi are having our first Leaders’ Retreat together. Indonesia is our close partner and neighbour. This Retreat is a good opportunity for us to discuss how we can advance our relationship.
Our bilateral relations are in good shape, there are close interactions at all levels. I told the President that we are keen to strengthen our economic cooperation with Indonesia. We would like Indonesia to succeed.
Despite our small size, we are Indonesia’s biggest foreign investor as you heard from the President. Our companies are investing in not just the Batam-Bintan-Karimun (BBK) region, but also in other parts of Indonesia, including the Kendal Industrial Park, which we will be opening this afternoon. It is a significant project, large scale, and it will create up to 4,000 jobs in Kendal. So it is a win-win outcome for Singapore and Indonesia.
We also reviewed the progress of our cooperation in other areas, particularly in tourism. We have agreed that increasing tourism traffic will benefit both our countries. Both countries are joint destinations which fit together. Tourists can visit both countries in one trip. We have just signed a MOU on tourism that will open up more cruise routes for the rapidly growing cruise industry. We are also supporting Indonesia’s capacity building in the hospitality and tourism sector. We talked about investors between our both countries. We look forward to investments further growing between Singapore and Indonesia. In particular, investments perhaps in the energy sector, where we can collaborate on energy solutions which contribute to Indonesia’s 35,000 mega watt power plan.
I suggested to the President and we agreed that we should form an Indonesia-Singapore Business Council to add value to our partnership. This will enable our businesses to network more deeply and understand opportunities on both sides. The council will comprise business leaders from both countries and be co-chaired. My suggestion would be the EDB and Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM).
We also discussed other bilateral issues. We talked about our counter-terrorism cooperation and I thanked the President for Indonesia’s action in detecting and arresting the terrorist group in Batam, Gigi and the others who were planning to attack Singapore through rockets, at Marina Bay Sands. I look forward to making our cooperation on terrorism closer and deeper in many areas.
I also thanked the President for his actions in tackling the haze issue in Indonesia which has made a difference this year and offered Singapore’s help to deal with this transboundary problem, which affects all the countries in Southeast Asia.
Next year, it is our 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Indonesia. I invited the President to come to Singapore as it is my turn to host the retreat. It is also a good opportunity on the 50th anniversary for us to celebrate in a proper manner, not just on economic cooperation but on cultural, social and on many other aspects of our ties which have benefited our two countries for many years.
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