PM Lee, Jokowi to meet on Monday at Leaders' Retreat

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shakes hands with Indonesia President Joko Widodo after a joint news conference at the Istana in Singapore on July 28, 2015.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shakes hands with Indonesia President Joko Widodo after a joint news conference at the Istana in Singapore on July 28, 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

Economic and tourism cooperation among issues to be discussed between the two leaders

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrives in Indonesia today for his first Leaders' Retreat with President Joko Widodo, where they will discuss furthering economic collaboration between the two countries.

The visit, which follows Mr Joko's state visit to Singapore in July last year, is in keeping with a long-held tradition of leaders from the two close neighbours meeting informally each year to boost ties.

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement today that both leaders will review the progress in bilateral relations, explore ways to deepen cooperation and exchange views on regional and international developments during the retreat, which officially begins tomorrow.

Accompanying PM Lee are his wife Ho Ching and nine political office-holders, including Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean, and the ministers for trade and industry, defence, foreign affairs, and education, among others.

A highlight of the retreat, said Indonesia's Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto, is the inauguration of the Kendal Industrial Park by Mr Joko and PM Lee.

A highlight of the retreat, said Indonesia's Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto, is the inauguration of the Kendal Industrial Park by Mr Joko and PM Lee. Analysts said the joint venture in Semarang between Sembcorp Development and Indonesian developer Jababeka marks a new trend of Singapore companies venturing beyond places like Jakarta and Batam.

Analysts said the joint venture in Semarang between Sembcorp Development and Indonesian developer Jababeka marks a new trend of Singapore companies venturing beyond places like Jakarta and Batam.

Mr Lee and Mr Joko, better known as Jokowi, will also witness the signing of four memorandums of understanding, including one on tourism cooperation between the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Indonesia's Tourism Ministry.

The other agreements cover plans to jointly build capabilities in the digital economy, hospitality and tourism, and a smart city development in Makassar by IE Singapore.

These will expand on the long- standing and strong economic ties between Singapore and Indonesia, which recorded bilateral trade of $58.7 billion last year.

Singapore was Indonesia's top foreign investor last year, and is on course to maintain that position for this year, after recording US$7.1 billion (S$10 billion) in investments in just the first nine months of this year.

Observers expect the close economic cooperation to continue despite periodic tensions over issues such as transboundary haze, airspace management and, more recently, Indonesia's tax amnesty.

Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) official Sarman Simanjorang hopes the meetings will result in improved business regulations that are mutually beneficial for both countries.

"Indonesia and Singapore are part of the Asean economic community, and the potential for growth is huge; we should support each other," said the deputy chairman for Kadin's Jakarta chapter.

The two countries began diplomatic relations in 1967, and leaders from Indonesia and Singapore enjoy good personal relations, said Indonesian diplomats Adhyanti S. Wirajuda and M. Reza Adenan.

Despite many challenges over the past 50 years, the partnership has been growing in strength, the officials from the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore wrote last Thursday in the Jakarta Globe news website.

"As the two countries embark on taking the partnership to the next level in decades to come, this meeting and the (50th) anniversary should be used to gain momentum."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 13, 2016, with the headline 'PM Lee, Jokowi to meet tomorrow at Leaders' Retreat'. Print Edition | Subscribe