S'pore, Indonesia to set up business council

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesian President Joko Widodo agreed to form an Indonesia-Singapore Business Council to enhance business networking and boost co-operation.

"President Jokowi and I have agreed to form an Indonesia-Singapore Business Council to add value to our partnership. This will allow our businesses to network and more deeply understand opportunities on both sides," PM Lee said at a news conference yesterday after talks with the Indonesian President.

PM Lee suggested that the council, to comprise business leaders from both countries, could be co-chaired by Singapore's Economic Development Board and Indonesia's Investment Coordinating Board.

He also thanked Indonesia for thwarting the rocket-attack plot by militants in Batam that was targeting Singapore's Marina Bay.

In addition, he acknowledged Indonesia's efforts in combating the haze, which had "made a difference this year".

He also offered Singapore's help to deal with the problem which "affects all the countries in South-east Asia".

President Joko told reporters that it was a productive meeting with PM Lee and the Singapore delegation, where aside from economic collaboration, they also discussed the issue of terrorism and the South China Sea.

He agreed that the two countries will continue with their economic co-operation and welcomed the signing of a new agreement on tourism co-operation between Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry and Indonesia's Tourism Ministry.

The two countries will co-operate in these areas: cruise, joint marketing and promotion, as well as meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions.

It was one of four memorandums of understanding signed between the two countries yesterday.

The other agreements cover plans to jointly build capabilities in the digital economy, hospitality and tourism, and a smart city development in Makassar by trade agency IE Singapore.

These will expand on the longstanding and strong economic ties between Singapore and Indonesia, which recorded bilateral trade of $58.7 billion last year.

The retreat, which followed President Joko's state visit to Singapore in July last year, was in keeping with a long-held tradition of leaders from the two close neighbours meeting informally each year to boost ties.

PM Lee and President Joko, better known as Jokowi, began the retreat with a "four-eye meeting", before the high-powered delegations from Singapore and Indonesia gathered for discussions.

The delegation meetings centred on economic collaborations between the two close neighbours, as well as ways to co-operate on counter-terrorism, capability development and tourism.

Accompanying PM Lee are his wife, Ho Ching, and political office-holders.


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