Seven agreements signed between Singapore and Indonesia agencies at Leaders' Retreat

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with Indonesian President Joko Widodo after their bilateral meeting in Bali, Indonesia, on Oct 11, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

NUSA DUA, BALI - Singapore and Indonesia on Thursday (Oct 11) signed various pacts to deepen economic cooperation and cultural exchange, as well as boost collaboration in areas such as tourism, maritime training and industry development.

Among the seven wide-ranging agreements inked at the Leaders' Retreat in Bali was a bilateral investment treaty, which establishes rules on how each country should treat investments and investors from the other nation.

The treaty will ensure the investments of companies operating in the other country are protected, on top of the protection already accorded under each nation's domestic laws. It will also give investors access to international arbitration in the event of investment disputes.

Besides protecting the interest of investors, the treaty will also reinforce the strong economic ties between Singapore and Indonesia, said Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry.

This, it added, is especially significant, as Singapore has been the top investor in Indonesia since 2014, with realised investments hitting US$8.4 billion (S$11.5 billion) in 2017.

"Singapore has robust and longstanding economic ties with Indonesia, and I'm glad that both countries remain committed to strengthening our economic relations," said Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing. "The signing of this (treaty) can boost the confidence of investors venturing into Indonesia, leading to greater trade and investment flows between our two countries."

A pact to strengthen cooperation in fintech and nurture innovation in the financial services of both countries was also signed.

The agreement between Indonesia's Financial Services Authority and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will facilitate information-sharing on emerging fintech market trends, among other things, and promote joint innovation projects between the two countries.

A framework will also be established to help fintech companies better understand the regulatory regime and opportunities in each country, lowering barriers of entry for firms looking to make their foray into each other's markets.

Cultural cooperation also got a boost, with Singapore's Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and Indonesia's Ministry of Education and Culture agreeing to pave the way for more collaborations and training opportunities in the arts and heritage.

And Singapore technology solutions providers and Indonesian manufacturers will be able to work together more closely to drive industry development thanks to a pact between Enterprise Singapore and Indonesia's Agency for Research and Development of Industry. This comes on the back of Indonesia's push to spur economic growth and create more jobs in key sectors: Automotive, chemicals, electronics, food and beverages, and textiles and garments.

Cooperation in cruise tourism - an area both countries are keen to develop - will also be intensified, with an agreement that will see Genting Cruise Lines and state-owned terminal operator Pelabuhan Indonesia III team up to develop facilities at the Indonesian port of Celukan Bawang in north Bali for bigger cruise ships of up to 350m to berth directly and to explore possible joint development of other cruise ports.

The remaining two agreements will pave the way for more collaboration in training. One will see Temasek Foundation International and Ngee Ann Polytechnic collaborate with Indonesia's Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education on financial technology learning for higher education providers.

The other is an extension of a pact between the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and Indonesia's Directorate General of Sea Transportation to cooperate on the training of their officers.

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