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Speech by Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister of State for Finance & Transport, at West Java Cultural Nite & Inauguration of The Representative Office, West Java Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Singapore, 19 Jan 06, at Embassy of The Republic of Indonesia

20 Jan 2006

Your Excellency, Pak Jero Wacik, Indonesian State Minister for Culture and Tourism

Your Excellency, Pak Mochamad Slamet Hidayat, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Singapore,

Pak Danny Setiawan, Governor of West Java,

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Evening,

1. I am delighted to be here today for the West Java Cultural Night and the inauguration ceremony of the Singapore representative office of the West Java Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This is indeed a momentous occasion.

2. Singapore and Indonesia share a close and long-standing economic relationship dating back to pre-colonial times. Over the years, we have remained major trading and investment partners.

3. Indonesia is a favourite investment destination for Singapore businesses. In fact, Singapore consistently ranks among Indonesia's top foreign investors every year. Many Singapore-based enterprises, large and small, continue to show keen interest in investing in Indonesia.

4. In 2003, our trade promotion agency, IE Singapore, launched Network Indonesia, to foster closer business linkages between Singapore-based businesses and their Indonesian counterparts. Network Indonesia is the first and only South East Asian business networking platform launched by IE Singapore, a testimony to the importance of the Indonesian market to Singapore-based businesses.

5. Network Indonesia has organised and supported numerous events including trade missions, business seminars, and networking sessions. Thousands of companies from both Indonesia and Singapore have participated in and benefited from these events, resulting in greater mutual awareness of investment opportunities in both our countries.

6. Singaporean investments in Indonesia have traditionally concentrated in Jakarta and the Riau province. But our companies are now increasingly aware of the bountiful opportunities in other parts of Indonesia including, of course, West Java. West Java is a beautiful province rich in history and culture. I also understand that her native inhabitants, the Sundanese, are known to be soft-spoken, light-hearted people who posses a natural friendliness and politeness. They are also famous for their classical dances and music which we are very fortunate to experience first-hand later this evening.

7. Such colourful displays of art and culture, coupled with the intrinsic beauty of a land lined with rich green valleys and lofty mountains, easily explains why tourism is a thriving industry in West Java. With direct flights between Singapore and the West Java capital of Bandung, there are great opportunities to form tie-ups and roll out joint tour-packages, which will help the tourist industry in both places.

8. Besides tourism, West Java is also known for its strength in industrial manufacturing. Within the towns of Bekasi, Karawang, Purwakarta, West Java boasts one of the greatest concentration of industrial estates in Indonesia. I understand that many Singapore-based companies are already operating out of these industrial estates to take advantage of the lower costs and proximity to raw materials. They cover a wide span of activities ranging from household electronics manufacturing to furniture design and fabrication.

9. With its emphasis on science and technology, the capital city of Bandung has also successfully transformed itself into a leading technological city. Backed by good universities, institutes of technology and premier research centres, Bandung has managed to attract companies from the telecommunications, aircraft, locomotive, and I.T. industries. Given Singapore's own focus on research and development, there are good opportunities for collaborations and partnerships.

10. In addition to tourism, manufacturing, and technology, the collaborative opportunities between West Javanese and Singaporean companies extend to infrastructure development, energy resources, and agriculture. In fact, West Java and Singapore complement each other well with their respective strengths. With her abundant supply of natural resources and low-cost production capabilities, West Java can be the manufacturing base for Singapore companies, while Singapore, with her good international connectivity and strong network of supporting business services can be the base from which West Java companies can expand to the rest of the world.

11. The West Java Chamber of Commerce and Industry Singapore Representative Office that is opening today will lend added impetus to the forging of closer economic linkages between West Java and Singapore. I am also confident that bilateral trade will continue to broaden and flourish as a result. Centrally located in Raffles Place, the office will facilitate the flow of officials, businessmen and tourists between West Java and Singapore. It will also be a useful point of contact for Singapore-based businesses interested in West Java.

12. I heartily congratulate the Governor of West Java, Pak Danny Setiawan and his team on the opening of the West Java Chamber of Commerce and Industry Singapore Representative Office today. This marks the opening of a promising new chapter in the relationship between West Java and Singapore.

13. May I wish one and all a most enjoyable and entertaining evening. Thank you.