Singapore, Indonesia mark 50 years of relations

(From left) Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore Ngurah Swajaya, Singapore Trade Minister Lim Hng Kiang, Indonesian Vice-Foreign Minister AM Fachir, and Singapore Manufacturing President Douglas Foo at an event to commemorate 50 years of diplomatic rel
(From left) Indonesian Ambassador to Singapore Ngurah Swajaya, Singapore Trade Minister Lim Hng Kiang, Indonesian Vice-Foreign Minister AM Fachir, and Singapore Manufacturing President Douglas Foo at an event to commemorate 50 years of diplomatic relations, on Jan 17, 2017. PHOTO: SMF

SINGAPORE - Singapore and Indonesia marked 50 years of bilateral and diplomatic relations on Tuesday.

More than 250 businessmen and officials participated in the 'Indonesia- Singapore Business Partnerships 50 years and beyond', held at Mandarin Orchard and organised by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation and the Indonesian embassy in Singapore.

Speaking at the event Dr A M Fachir, Indonesia's vice-minister for foreign affairs, lauded the enduring and growing partnership between the neighbours and urged both countries not to forget that "regional stability" is a very important asset.

He also gave the audience an overview of how the Indonesian government is improving the business environment in the country. The country's World Bank ranking for the ease of doing business went up from 106 to 91 last year.

"Indonesia's positive performance is attributed to the government policy to simplify the bureaucracy and cut the red tape," he said.

Dr Fachir highlighted that a key focus would be on developing infrastructure, with the government allocating 346 trillion rupiah to the sector.

The funding includes that of the Viability Gap Fund, which is for private sector investment in infrastructure.

Mr Lim Hng Kiang, minister for trade and industry (trade), highlighted that bilateral ties have "grown from strength to strength", with economic ties being a hallmark of the relationship.

He noted that for the first nine months of 2016, Singapore companies invested almost US$7.1 billion (S$10.1 billion) in Indonesia, double that for the same period in 2015.

He urged Singapore companies to look out for economic opportunities in Indonesia beyond its capital Jakarta, highlighting the Kendal Industrial Park near Semarang.

"Indonesia's focus on developing new infrastructure and improving existing ones creates opportunities for Singapore companies with relevant expertise in the utilities, communications, energy and transportation sectors," said Mr Lim.

In 2015, bilateral trade between Singapore and Indonesia reached US$58.7 billion, making Indonesia Singapore's fourth largest trading partner while Singapore was Indonesia's third largest trading partner.

A recent SMF survey also revealed that Indonesia is the top choice for an overseas market that its members would want to explore this year.