Indonesia committed to working with 'Singaporean friends' as both countries celebrate 50 years of bilateral relations in September

JAKARTA - Indonesia is committed to working closely with its "Singaporean friends from all walks of life" for a better future for the people of both countries, said Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, in a video greeting shared by the Singapore embassy in Jakarta on Facebook on Friday (Aug 18).

She said 2017 is an important year as the two countries are celebrating the Golden Jubilee of Indonesia-Singapore relations as well as the 50th anniversary of the founding of Asean.

"Throughout five decades of cooperation, we have progressed not only by bringing prosperity and well-being to our people, our cooperation also serves as an important part of the maintenance of peace, stability and prosperity in our region," Ms Retno.

Indonesia and Singapore will mark 50 years of bilateral relations on Sept 7 at a Leaders' Retreat to be held in the city-state, where Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be hosting Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his delegation. 

Apart from the festivities to celebrate the occasion, bilaterals meetings are also being held for the two sides to discuss how they can deepen cooperation in areas such as digital economy and skills upgrading.

Other agenda items include exploring more ways to cooperate on economic and regional development, and to continue collaborating in social and cultural exchanges, as well as security.

Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam and PM Lee have also written to Mr Joko to convey their congratulations on Indonesia’s 72nd Independence Day on Thursday.


In his letter, Dr Tan said bilateral ties “are strong and multi-faceted, underpinned by frequent political exchanges and robust economic links", while PM Lee said he was delighted that the ministers and officials from both countries have been making progress on several of the bilateral initiatives we discussed in previous Leaders'


Retreat held in Semarang, Central Java, last year.

Singapore and Indonesia took significant steps forward in deepening relations during the first Leaders' Retreat between Mr Joko and PM Lee held in Indonesia last November, with both leaders agreeing to wide-ranging initiatives aimed at enhancing economic ties.

The two nations have always enjoyed strong economic ties, with official figures released last month showing that Indonesia's biggest foreign investor in the second quarter of 2017 was Singapore with US$1.6 billion (S$2.18 billion) in investments, followed by Japan (US$1.4 billion) and China (US$1.3 billion).

In 2016, bilateral trade reached US$56.1 billion, and Singapore was Indonesia's top foreign investor in 2016 with investments amounting to more than US$13 billion. Both countries are the top source of visitor arrivals for each other.

Mr Retno added that both countries have also learned from the past that mutual trust is elemental in ensuring stability but she foresees more difficult and complex challenges in the future for the region.

"Therefore it is imperative for us to strengthen our mutual trust and work even closer together to rise above any potential challenges and dynamics," said Ms Retno.

"I call for the spirit of positivity to be the modus operandi for our cooperation for another 50 years to come."