Singapore, Indonesia to begin discussions on reciprocal green lane for essential travel

SINGAPORE – Singapore and Indonesia will start discussions on “green lane” arrangements to resume essential travel between the two neighbours, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his visiting counterpart Retno Marsudi said on Tuesday (Aug 25).

Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said that given the strong business links between the two countries, both ministers have tasked their officials to begin discussions on a reciprocal green lane.

The ministry said such an arrangement would “allow for essential travel to gradually resume in a manner that would safeguard public health and safety in both countries”.

Singapore currently has green lane arrangements in place with Malaysia and China, and is discussing them with a number of countries, including Japan.

Indonesia has travel corridor arrangements for essential business travel with China, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

Ms Retno, who is on a three-day visit to Singapore, was hosted to lunch by Dr Balakrishnan. They agreed that Singapore and Indonesia should work closely together to strengthen public health cooperation, enhance economic growth and investments, deepen financial cooperation, and facilitate safe travel, the MFA said.

She also paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Istana.

They reaffirmed the excellent relations between Singapore and Indonesia, the MFA said.

They also discussed how the two countries can continue to work together to overcome the common challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, and encouraged further bilateral discussions between their officials.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Mr Lee said he had spoken to Indonesian President Joko Widodo several times in the past few months, and continued the discussion on jointly overcoming the pandemic with Ms Retno.

“Singapore is glad to have been able to contribute medical supplies to support Indonesia’s fight against Covid-19,” he added.

Singapore has sent diagnostic tests, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines for the detection of Covid-19, as well as personal protective equipment and thermal scanners, among other items, to Indonesia.

Mr Lee added that Singapore is on track to again be the top foreign investor in Indonesia this year, as has been the case since 2014.

“Even as we pick up the pieces from the pandemic, we should not neglect helping each other recover from this crisis,” he said.

“As close neighbours, we have a responsibility to look out for each other, as we are all stronger together.”

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