Singapore, Indonesia agree to conclude investment pact talks

Ministers also promise to speed up double taxation review

Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing (centre) with (from left) EV Hive’s head of partnership Zakaria Putra Wirjanto and CEO Carlson Lau; ACE deputy chairman James Tan and executive director Edmas Neo; Skystar Ventures head of programme Robert Hanson and public relations coordinator Nike Putri Yunandika. PHOTO: MTI

Singapore and Indonesia have agreed to conclude talks on a bilateral investment treaty between their countries before their leaders hold a retreat next month.

They will also speed up talks on the review of an agreement to avoid double taxation.

Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing and Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution reached agreement on these points at a meeting in Singapore yesterday to discuss ties ahead of this year's Singapore-Indonesia Leaders' Retreat.

The economic partnership between the two neighbours is set for a wide-ranging boost, with the two leaders agreeing at the meeting to deepen collaboration in industrial parks - namely Kendal Industrial Park in Semarang and Nongsa Digital Park on Batam Island - tourism and the digital economy.

They will also do more in training and capacity building, such as programmes for regional leaders, tie-ups between universities and technical skills development.

"Singapore and Indonesia reaffirmed the shared goal of ensuring a business-friendly environment and enhancing bilateral trade, investment, tourism and connectivity," the Ministry of Trade and Industry said in a statement.

Mr Chan and Mr Darmin co-chaired the 8th Singapore-Indonesia Six Bilateral Economic Working Groups Ministerial Meeting, an annual affair to discuss economic initiatives between the countries in six areas: investment, manpower, transport, agri-business, tourism, as well as Batam, Bintan, Karimun and other special economic zones.

They signed a joint report that outlined the key initiatives and planned efforts, which will be submitted to the leaders of Singapore and Indonesia ahead of the leaders' retreat in Bali. The retreat is a long-held tradition in which leaders and ministers meet informally each year to discuss ways to strengthen ties.

Mr Chan and Mr Darmin also witnessed the signing of two agreements which will give their countries' start-ups a leg up. The pacts were signed by Singapore's Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE), a private-led initiative driving entrepreneurship, with Indonesia's Skystar Ventures, a tech incubator and co-working space operator, and with EV Hive, Indonesia's largest co-working space operator.

Under the memorandums of understanding, start-ups from Singapore and Indonesia will be able to tap each other's networks to expand. This will give Singapore start-ups additional access points into Indonesia's growing start-up scene, and enable Indonesian start-ups to expand beyond their own country.

Singapore and Indonesia share strong economic bonds, and are among each other's top trading partners, with bilateral trade reaching $59.4 billion last year.

Singapore was also Indonesia's top foreign investor, and Indonesia was Singapore's second largest source of visitor arrivals last year.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2018, with the headline Singapore, Indonesia agree to conclude investment pact talks. Subscribe