Indonesia looking at $5b in investment from Middle East

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government eyes up to US$5 billion in investment from the Middle East this year in financial services, natural resources, infrastructure, property and plantations.

Alwi Shihab, special government envoy to the Middle East, said he was optimistic about the target with the country having secured investment commitments from high profile companies such as Qatar Investment Authority last year.

"If we can bring in investment of $1 billion, like the Qatar Investment Authority, surely we can get high value investors from other Middle East countries, for example Kuwait."

He added that in 2007 countries from the region had invested some $2.55 billion through joint venture companies operating in infrastructure, chemical products and tourism.

Besides the Qatar sovereign fund, other investors who have signed investment agreements include Emmar of Algeria -- for the development of hotel and resort facilities worth $600 million in Lombok, with PT Bali Lombok Tourism Development Center.

To further support efforts to attract more Middle East investors, Alwi added, the government should introduce a more flexible taxation system and issue regulations on sharia-based financial services.

"The Middle East investors have mentioned they are very interested in Indonesia's sharia industry. But the absence of supporting laws has discouraged them."

As a result, "they choose Malaysia, and even Singapore." (nkn)
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