Indonesia welcomes more investment from Singapore in the transport sector to help the vast archipelago's push to improve its infrastructure, president-elect Joko Widodo said.
Infrastructure and industrial manufacturing will be key priorities of his administration, he said, citing collaboration on urban rail networks, seaports and airports to improve connectivity between cities and islands as an area where bilateral cooperation can be enhanced.
“You have experience with the subway and we must start with our railways in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, also Papua, to make our logistics distribution faster and to connect city to city,” he said.
Both sides could also work together on industrial parks along the lines of those in Batam and Bintan in areas in eastern Indonesia, where jobs need to be created, he added.
Economic cooperation had been a key pillar of bilateral ties between both neighbours during president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s 10 years in office, with bilateral trade at SUS$59.9 billion last year. Singapore was the second largest source of foreign investments in Indonesia, totalling $4.67 billion.
Both are also the top source of visitors for each other. Last year, Singapore saw 3.1 million arrivals from Indonesia while there were 1.4 million arrivals to Indonesia from Singapore. Joko wants to raise these numbers, saying he is open to more flights between Singapore and Indonesian cities.
“Indonesia-Singapore relations are strong, and important for Asean,” he said. “We need to continue to strengthen our bilateral cooperation, bilateral relations.”
Joko said he was a firm believer in keeping lines of discussion open, stressing that personal ties matter. “When we have a good relationship with people, I think when we have a small problem, we can pick up the phone and go ‘Hello’,” he said. “I’m a simple man. I don’t want to make a small problem into a big problem.”
Amid worries about Indonesians losing out to their neighbours once barriers are lowered as part of the Asean Economic Community, Joko said “there is no doubt the AEC will bring enormous economic benefit to Indonesia”, which has to improve its human capital.