With the inking of the latest MoUs during the annual Leaders’ Retreat, Singapore and Indonesia are scripting a new narrative to develop new areas of cooperation that are deep, multifaceted, forward-looking, and mutually beneficial for future generations

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong met Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Singapore on 16 March 2023 for the Singapore-Indonesia Leaders’ Retreat. This was Prime Minister Lee’s sixth Leaders’ Retreat with President Joko Widodo, and the first to be hosted in Singapore since the COVID-19 pandemic. Both Leaders reaffirmed the excellent state of relations between Singapore and Indonesia. They agreed that the bilateral relationship had strengthened substantially over President Joko Widodo’s two terms as President, providing a solid foundation to develop new areas of cooperation that are deep, multifaceted, forward-looking, and mutually beneficial for future generations.

Three Agreements Ratified
The Leaders welcomed the ratification of all three agreements under the Expanded Framework, namely:

  1. The Agreement on the Realignment of the Boundary between the Jakarta Flight Information Region (FIR) and the Singapore FIR;
  2. The Treaty for the Extradition of Fugitives; and
  3. The Defence Cooperation Agreement.

They also looked forward to the completion of the next step of obtaining approval from the International Civil Aviation Organisation for the new arrangements under the FIR Agreement, so that both countries can bring all three agreements into force on a mutually agreed date. The resolution of these longstanding issues is a testament to the strength and maturity of our bilateral relations.

Prime Minister Lee and President Joko Widodo affirmed that bilateral relations are on strong footing and agreed to deepen cooperation in sustainable and forward-looking areas of mutual interest. To this end, the Leaders’ witnessed the exchange of six Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) in emerging sectors like the digital economy, sustainability, and human capital development, as well as in traditional areas like security.

The Leaders noted the development of the digital economy in Singapore and Indonesia through cooperative projects like the Nongsa Digital Park in Batam. The Leaders welcomed the MOU on the Tech:X Programme between the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, which allows young tech professionals in both countries to undertake work opportunities in each other’s markets. This will deepen networks between Singapore and Indonesia’s tech ecosystems and allow tech talents to pursue opportunities in the fast-growing digital economy.

Focusing on common interests in sustainability, Prime Minister Lee and President Joko Widodo welcomed the signing of the MOU on Renewable Energy Cooperation between the Singapore Prime Minister’s Office and the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment. The MOU will put in place a framework for commercial cooperation in developing renewable energy capabilities, transmission infrastructure and cross-border electricity trading. The Leaders also witnessed the signing of an MOU on Sustainable Urban and Housing Development between the Singapore Ministry for National Development and the Indonesian Ministry of National Development Planning, to facilitate knowledge-sharing and training in sustainable infrastructure development.

Prime Minister Lee and President Joko Widodo recognised that people remained the most important resource of both countries and witnessed the signing of MOUs to invest in human capital through knowledge-sharing, capacity-building and training across various sectors. This includes the MOU on Health Cooperation between the Singapore Ministry of Health and the Indonesian Ministry of Health, and an MOU regarding Collaboration on Knowledge Sharing, Capacity Building and Research between the Singapore Centre for Liveable Cities, the Ministry of National Development, and the Indonesian Nusantara National Capital Authority.

The Leaders also welcomed the announcements on new projects under the Human Capital Partnership Agreement between the Singapore Ministry of Education and the Indonesian Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology, and the renewal of people-to-people exchanges in vocational training and between the respective civil services. These areas of collaboration and exchanges will augment existing expertise, strengthen interpersonal ties, and anchor positive relations between the two countries’ peoples.

Both Leaders recognised the need to continue collaboration in traditional sectors like security and finance amid a more uncertain global environment, whether through the Indonesia-Singapore Joint Update on Defence Cooperation between the two Ministries of Defence, the extension of the Bilateral Financial Agreement (BFA) between the central banks, or the establishment of a cooperation framework for Urban Search and Rescue between the Singapore Civil Defence Force and the Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency. Together, these present opportunities for Singapore and Indonesia to build confidence in the security and economic partnerships.

The Leaders agreed that bilateral cooperation should continue to be multi-faceted and comprehensive. They welcomed the signing of nine MOUs between Singapore and Indonesian businesses on 15 March 2023 in the digital economy sector, including in health technology and education technology. These MOUs will strengthen commercial linkages and complement bilateral cooperation in these emerging sectors.

Prime Minister Lee and President Joko Widodo also discussed Indonesia’s priorities for its ASEAN Chairmanship. Both Leaders exchanged views on the situation in Myanmar, and on the roadmap for Timor-Leste’s membership. Prime Minister Lee reiterated Singapore’s full support for Indonesia’s ASEAN Chairmanship.

Prime Minister Lee thanked President Joko Widodo for his contributions to the bilateral relationship, and both Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to take relations to new heights.

Sourced from the Minister of Foreign Affair official site.

The signing of MoUs between Singapore and Indonesian businesses on 15 March 2023 in the digital economy sector, health technology, and education technology.