Tue, 13 Jun 2006

Tue, 13 Jun 2006

RI, Singapore leaders to ink deals on economic zones

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong are slated to sign an agreement on economic cooperation that will include arrangements for the establishment of special economic zones in Indonesian territory.

The agreement, which will open up more opportunities for Singapore manufacturers to invest in Indonesia, will be signed by the two leaders on June 25 in Batam, presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal told reporters Monday.

"The agreement will include the establishment of special economic zones in Batam and Bintan to facilitate investment in these areas by more companies from Singapore," he said without going into details.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla has initiated several meetings with officials from Singapore to promote Batam and Bintan as Indonesia's main investment destinations for investors from the neighboring country.

Singapore is interested in Bintan and Batam because the islands are located less than an hour by ferry from Singapore, and have adequate business infrastructure, abundant water and labor supplies, and more relaxed customs management and supervision than other areas in Indonesia.

Due to a lack of land, Singapore is now trying to expand its manufacturing into neighboring countries. Bintan and Batam are likely to be its main focuses in this regard.

Under the new customs and excise bill currently being deliberated in the House of Representatives, companies operating in special economic zones will be exempted from paying excise and import duties.