RI, Singapore make significant progress in free trade zones

JAKARTA (JP): A joint ministerial level meeting between Indonesia and Singapore in Bali on Wednesday highlighted significant progress in the development of the Batam, Bintan and Karimun free trade zones (FTZs).

Indonesian Coordinating Minister for the Economy Boediono together with Singapore's Minister of Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang expressed their satisfaction with the progress made on the establishment of the FTZs and agreed to continue to work together in developing the region.

Compared to other countries in the region, Singapore is likely to benefit most from the development of the FTZs due to its advantage in proximity and the land limitations in its country.

Also present at the meeting was Investment Coordinating Board chairman Muhammad Lutfi, who reported that of the 75 action plans agreed by the Joint Working Group that established last year, Indonesia was responsible for 52.

The meeting in Bali was the fifth working group meeting.

"Of the 52 action plans, we have concluded 33, 18 are still in progress and there is one that has not been initiated yet," Lutfi said.

The most recent progress made by Indonesia was the issuance of three regulations last week, which formally established Batam, Bintan and Karimun islands in the Riau islands province as FTZs for 70 years, with actual implementation expected to commence no later than early January, next year.

Upon implementation, all tariffs on imports, added value tax, luxury goods tax and excise duty on the three islands will be removed.

With the establishment of the FTZs, the government targets to double exports from the figures made at the end of 2006, and to attract $1 billion worth of new investment, and create 130,000 new employment by the end of 2009.

Lutfi also reported that total exports value from the three islands soared to $2.19 billion during the first four months of this from US$1.86 billion in the same period, last year. Total value of exports throughout 2006 reached $4.24 billion. (Andi Haswidi)
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