Singapore firms may soon look to Indonesia's youth for talent under new partnership

Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi (right) walks with her Singaporean counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan during their meet in Jakarta, Indonesia on Jan 12, 2016.
Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi (right) walks with her Singaporean counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan during their meet in Jakarta, Indonesia on Jan 12, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

JAKARTA - Singapore-based companies may soon be able look to Indonesia's youth for talent under a new partnership between the two South-east Asian neighbours, said Dr Vivian Balakrishnan on Tuesday (Jan 12).

"We believe Indonesian universities and technical institutes will produce many graduates with digital skills and we are thinking of launching a scheme in which Singapore companies which are looking for talent will be able to recruit talent here, deploy them here and provide services for the rest of the world," said Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister.

Dr Balakrishnan was speaking to the media together with his Indonesian counterpart, Ms Retno Marsudi, at Gedung Pancasila in Jakarta, on the first day of his two-day inaugural visit to the country after taking on the foreign affairs portfolio.

Both ministers underlined the importance of the long-standing relationship between their two countries which has been built on strong historical and trade ties.

Singapore is currently the largest foreign investor in Indonesia, and the country's second largest trading partner, while Indonesia is Singapore's fourth largest trading partner after China, Malaysia and the United States, said Dr Balakrishnan.

"In term of tourist numbers, we are the largest source of tourists for each other. That means the largest single country providing tourists to Singapore is Indonesia. And Singaporeans also form the largest group of foreign tourists coming to Indonesia," he added. "So this is a strong and growing account... but we believe that there are many more opportunities to do even more with Indonesia."

Ongoing reform of regulations and other initiatives that provide regulatory certainty, for instance, will make Indonesia even more attractive to Singapore investors, said Dr Balakrishnan. There are also many new opportunities in the infrastructure development and services sectors in Indonesia, which Singapore companies can invest in.

Dr Balakrishnan had met Indonesia's Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan, as well as Information and Communications Minister Rudiantara, prior to arriving for his meeting with Ms Retno on Tuesday morning.

Ms Retno said the possibility of Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visiting Indonesia as well as how the two countries can "produce concrete results in economic collaboration and in tackling outstanding issues" were also raised during their meeting.

She also discussed with Dr Balakrishnan ways to alleviate the economic partnership between Singapore and Indonesia in, among others, by increasing exports in agricultural businesses.

"We talked about the possibility of cooperating in human resources especially in care-giving," she added. "I expressed the Indonesian government's appreciation to the Singapore government for the good treatment that has been given to Indonesian workers in Singapore and moving forward Indonesia plans to enhance the skill levels of its care-giver therapists."

Dr Balakrishnan returns to Singapore on Wednesday.