September 08, 2017
THE industrial park jointly developed by Singapore's Sembcorp Development and Indonesia's industrial estate developer PT Jababeka has been doing well since its official opening 10 months ago, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday. The 2,700 ha Kendal Industrial Park, also known as Park by the Bay, is in Semarang, a bustling port city in the north-east of Central Java. Speaking at a joint news conference alongside visiting Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the Istana, Mr Lee, giving an update on the park, said the facility has pulled in 32 confirmed tenants and committed investments worth US$475 million.
Mr Lee announced that a new polytechnic will be set up in the park to train Indonesians for jobs supporting these investments and to improve the attractiveness of the park as an investment destination. Sembcorp had said in a statement last November that around 100,000 jobs are expected to be created by 2021, when the first phase of the project's construction is complete. Kendal Industrial Park came up for discussion at the second leaders' retreat between Mr Lee and Mr Joko at the Istana, when they talked about cooperation investments and skills training. The two leaders had graced the park's opening last November, when Mr Lee visited Semarang for their last retreat. Singapore and Indonesia, two of the five founding members of Asean, are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations this year.
In his remarks at the Istana, Mr Lee said the bilateral relationship has "grown and prospered" over the past five decades: "Generations of leaders have taken a long-term and win-win approach, to cooperate for mutual benefit and solve problems amicably and sensibly. "As a result, today we have a strong partnership based on mutual trust and respect." According to latest figures, Indonesia was Singapore's fifth-largest trading partner last year, while Singapore was Indonesia's third-largest. Bilateral trade reached S$56.1 billion that year. Singapore was the top contributor of realised investments in Indonesia in 2016, with the sum at US$9.2 billion; it was also Indonesia's biggest source of visitors in 2016, with 1.47 million visitors.
Mr Lee and Mr Joko also affirmed the readiness of their governments to begin negotiations on a new bilateral investment treaty, which will further strengthen economic cooperation and investment flows. Singapore is now Indonesia's main partner in trade, investment and tourism, as Indonesia is for Singapore, said Mr Joko. He added that the Indonesia-Singapore Business Council, at just over a year old, will further boost the links between the business communities of the two countries. "(Singapore and Indonesia) are neighbours by God's will, by geography, but we are, and always will be, good neighbours and close friends by choice," he said. "We have overcome challenges over the last 50 years. The challenges of the next 50 years will differ, including in terms of bilateral relations." Mr Lee noted that Singapore and Indonesia have cooperated in disaster and humanitarian management, as well as counter-terrorism.
He told reporters that he shared Mr Joko's concern over the growing terrorist threat in the region and that the two leaders agreed to work closely on this issue. Mr Joko later suggested that Singapore and Indonesia join forces in the development of the digital economy, which he said was "no longer an option", but "an imperative". "This will be a priority for Indonesia and Singapore. If we can combine investment and technology with talent and youth market potential, then the digital economy cooperation will make the economies of Indonesia and Singapore even stronger," he said. He named Batam as a suitable place to grow the digital economy, with the development of the digital cluster in Nongsa and the development of a start-up incubator. A total of nine agreements were signed in conjunction with the leaders' retreat, covering areas ranging from education to disaster risk-management and vocational training.
Mr Joko arrived in Singapore on Wednesday afternoon with his wife Iriana and a delegation. He spent his first day meeting members of the Singapore-based Indonesian community at the Indonesian Embassy. On Thursday morning, he and Mr Lee were at the Botanic Gardens to plant a tree to mark the golden jubilee celebrations. Mr Lee and his wife Ho Ching later hosted their guests to a nasi lemak breakfast. After a private "four-eye" meeting and a larger delegation meeting involving ministers and officials from both countries at the Istana, Mr Lee hosted an official lunch in Mr Joko's honour. The two leaders then made their way to the Marina Bay Cruise Centre, where they watched a combined fly-past featuring aircraft from the Republic of Singapore Air Force and the Indonesian Air Force, and a joint performance by the military bands of the Singapore Armed Forces and the Indonesian National Armed Forces.