S'pore, Indonesia to set up business council

Singapore and Indonesia inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) yesterday to set up a business council to expand bilateral cooperation.

The Indonesia-Singapore Business Council (ISBC) was first mooted during a bilateral meeting between Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the Leaders Retreat in Semarang, Central Java, in November last year.

The MOU signing between Indonesia's Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) and Singapore Economic Development Board was witnessed by Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang and his Indonesian counterparts.

According to Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry, the ISBC will help identify potential areas of cooperation between the business communities of the two countries as well as foster closer interaction and strengthen the networks between the respective private sectors.

During his two-day visit to Jakarta, Mr Lim attended the 7th Singapore-Indonesia Six Bilateral Economic Working Groups (6WG) Ministerial Meeting, and met Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution, Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita, and BKPM chairman Thomas Lembong.

BKPM figures early this week showed that Indonesia's biggest foreign investor in the second quarter of the year was Singapore with US$1.6 billion (S$2.17 billion) in investments, followed by Japan (US$1.4 billion) and China (US$1.3 billion). Singapore was Indonesia's top foreign investor last year with investments amounting to more than S$13 billion.

During the meetings, the ministers discussed ongoing bilateral initiatives in specific sectors such as energy and tourism, the two priority sectors that PM Lee and President Joko had identified as potential areas of cooperation last year.

Mr Lim's visit comes as the two Asean nations prepare to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties at the next retreat to be held in Singapore on Sept 7.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore, Indonesia to set up business council'. Print Edition | Subscribe