Singapore's DPM Heng, Indonesia's Airlangga discuss 'three bridges' to boost ties

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat and Indonesia’s Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto on Friday (March 12) discussed ways to enhance economic cooperation to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic.

Among matters raised in the virtual meeting were the so-called “three bridges” to bring the two countries closer.

The ministers also welcomed the recent entry into force of the Singapore-Indonesia Bilateral Investment Treaty that establishes rules on the treatment of investors and investments from both countries.

“While the pandemic has severely disrupted the global economy, our close economic collaboration is growing from strength to strength, and we will work together to seize new opportunities,” Mr Heng wrote on Facebook.

“Last year, Singapore was once again the largest foreign investor in Indonesia, even in the midst of the pandemic. This attests to the strength of our bilateral economic ties,” said Mr Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance.

Singapore’s investments in Indonesia totalled US$9.8 billion (S$13.2 billion) last year. Indonesia was one of Singapore’s top 10 trading partners last year, with bilateral trade reaching S$48.8 billion.

“Singapore investments last year was the highest in the last six years, and this shows our close bilateral ties,” Mr Airlangga was quoted as saying by the Rakyat Merdeka news site on Friday.

One of the bridges comprises a “digital bridge” for tech companies in both Singapore and Indonesia involving Batam’s Nongsa Digital Park, he said.

The second is an “infrastructure bridge” with a plan to build a 6.4km bridge linking Batam and Bintan islands next year, to spur connectivity and investments.

The third bridge is the “travel bubble bridge” to help the tourism sector in both countries.

Said Mr Heng: “Bapak Airlangga and I discussed how we can build bridges – between our two countries, within Asean and globally. We have asked our respective officials to look into what more can be done to further strengthen bilateral connectivity and cooperation for the coming years.”

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