As many as 22 provinces have applied for Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status, a program which may be implemented starting next year, an official said on Tuesday, The Jakarta Post reported.
Bambang Susantono, an official at the Coordinating Ministry for the Economy in charge of infrastructure and regional development, said the government would scrutinize the capability of provinces before granting SEZ status.
"No provinces are being prioritized. We will first verify that each area meets the SEZ criteria," he said.
The 22 provinces are North Sumatra, South Sumatra, Riau, Riau Islands, Bangka Belitung, Bengkulu, Banten, Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java, West Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, North Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, Maluku, West Papua and Papua.
Susantono said there is no deadline for the government to grant SEZ status and the SEZ draft bill is still being deliberated at the House of Representatives, with endorsement no earlier than October.
Malaysia, Indonesia agree to explore new air routes
Malaysia and Indonesia will explore the opening of new air routes between the two countries and landing rights for Malaysia's airline companies in some Indonesian cities, Bernama reported on Thursday.
"We discussed new landing rights for Malaysia's airline companies, whether MAS, AirAsia or Firefly. These are for the new destinations we are looking at to promote tourism and strengthen ties between the people of both countries," Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak told Malaysian reporters at the end of his visit to Indonesia.
Razak said trade between Malaysia and Indonesia which had increased by 16% in 2007-2008 was also discussed, with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stating that he hoped the upward trend would continue.
Razak said the manpower aspect was also important for the governments and people of both countries, with Indonesia expressing its satisfaction with some of Malaysia's efforts to improve the Indonesian migrant labor situation.
"We also discussed cooperation in the palm oil sector as Malaysia and Indonesia produce almost 90% of the world's palm oil requirement," he said, adding that a new area of cooperation was the setting up of more palm oil refineries in Indonesia.
"This is to enable Indonesia to export more processed palm oil instead of crude palm oil, while strategic industrial planning by both countries would determine the stock levels, and enhance R&D and oil palm replanting."
Also touched on at the bilateral meeting, in which seven Malaysian cabinet ministers participated, was cooperation in the area of food security, whereby Malaysia could buy rice from Indonesia if required and if Indonesia has surplus production.
On agriculture, Razak said Malaysia, in its effort to reduce agriculture costs, could buy products made from maize produced by Indonesia, considering the high price of livestock feed in Malaysia.
Govt. to promote 200 domestic product brands
The government is to make an effort to popularize the brands of 200 of the country's products at home, regionally and globally, Trade Minister Mari Pangestu said on Wednesday, Asia Pulse reported.
Pangestu said her office was currently compiling a database on companies whose products with the potential to have trademarks of their own including products of small and medium businesses.
“To meet the target we will facilitate them to be able to participate in various exhibitions," she said.
Her office would also help improve packaging of products, provide production equipment and with marketing.
The government recently launched the "Love Indonesia" campaign program to improve appreciation of the country's products, services and international image.
Besides encouraging going global, the trade ministry had also encouraged small and medium businesses to create good packaging and trademarks for their products.