S'pore trade chamber inaugurated

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

About 80 business executives from Singaporean firms operating in Indonesia inaugurated a chamber of commerce Thursday to represent there interests here.

The Singapore Chamber of Commerce Indonesia (SCCI), with its offices at the Singaporean embassy on Jl. Rasuna Said, Kuningan, Central Jakarta, was officially inaugurated by Indonesian Trade Minister Mari E. Pangestu and Singapore's ambassador, Edward Lee.

"We will provide opportunities for all Singaporean business interests in Indonesia. We will also promote a forum for information sharing among members, and encourage and foster better networking with other business organizations in Indonesia," the chairman of the chamber, Arthur Ng, said in his address during the inauguration ceremony.

He said that the establishment of the chamber was timely given the growing business conducted by Singaporean firms in Indonesia.

"For some years, the Singaporean business community in Indonesia has been steadily growing in tandem with our investment. Last year, we became Indonesia's top foreign investor," he said.

According to figures from the Industry Ministry, since 2001 the trade volume between the two countries has steadily increased by an average of 18 percent each year. In 2005, bilateral trade increased by 43 percent to US$17.3 billion from US$12.08 billion in 2004.

In 2005, Singapore was the largest foreign investor in Indonesia, with investment commitments valued at approximately US$4 billion spread among 200 projects.

In her address, Trade Minister Mari expressed her satisfaction at the establishment of the chamber, and said she hoped that with the its opening, Singapore businesspeople would be able to help improve the investment climate in Indonesia.

"With the creation of this chamber, I hope we can make progress in opening up greater investment opportunities," she said.

She said that agriculture and food processing could become very attractive business sectors in Indonesia for Singaporean investors.

"Singapore is a prospective market for our agricultural and food products as it is a place where at least 30 million foreign tourists pass through every year," she told reporters after the ceremony.

Indonesian Chamber of Commerce vice president John Prasetio also warmly welcomed the association's planned assistance with the establishment over the coming two months of new special economic zones (SEZ) in Batam and Bintan, Riau Islands province.

"With their involvement, we can guarantee that this project will be successful and we can learn from them on how to establish more SEZ in other regions," he said.

The establishment of the Singapore chamber follows the setting up of chambers by other countries, including France, Germany, Britain, the United States, Canada, Korea, Switzerland and Australia.(09)
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