JAKARTA: Singapore and Indonesia have expressed interest to enhance cooperation in areas such as manpower development, and this includes a scheme to help companies from Singapore recruit talent in Indonesia.
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore's Foreign Minister, said this during a meeting in Jakarta with his counterpart Ms Retno Marsudi.
"We believe Indonesian universities and technical institutes will produce many graduates with digital skills and we are thinking of launching a scheme, in which Singapore companies - which are looking for talent - will be able to recruit talent here, deploy them here, and provide services for the rest of the world," he said.
The meeting was held on the first day of Dr Balakrishnan's visit to Jakarta. Earlier on Tuesday (Jan 12), he had also met with Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan. The visits are part of his introductory visits to countries in the region, after taking office as Singapore's new Foreign Minister.
Dr Balakrishnan said Singapore and Indonesia have a long, deep and multifaceted relationship. In terms of economic partnership, he believes Singapore companies will be looking for more opportunities to invest in Indonesia amid the country's ongoing economic reforms that will provide better regulatory certainty.
In addition, Dr Balakrishnan said Singapore looks forward to opportunities to rejuvenate the collaborative projects the two countries have in Batam, Bintan and Karimun.
Ms Retno also indicated that the two countries could cooperate in manpower for caregivers.
"There is a possibility of cooperation in manpower for caregivers,” said Ms Retno. “I expressed the Indonesian government's appreciation to Singapore for the good treatment given to Indonesian workers in Singapore. Moving forward, Indonesia will also increase its skilled workers, among them related to caregiver therapists."
Indonesia is also keen to increase its export in agri-business to Singapore. Ms Retno said Singapore needs agriculture products and Indonesia has the export capacity.
Both foreign ministers also discussed the possibility of Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visiting Indonesia this year, which is expected to be one of the highlights marking 50 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Indonesia.
In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry (MFA) said Dr Balakrishnan also met with Governor of the Special Capital Region of Jakarta Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.
The two discussed ways in which Singapore could cooperate more closely with the Jakarta government "in areas of mutual benefit", said MFA, adding that Mr Basuki hosted Dr Balakrishnan on a tour of the Jakarta City Hall, as well as briefed him on the operations of the Jakarta Smart City Lounge.
On Wednesday, Dr Balakrishnan is scheduled to meet with Indonesian President Joko Widodo.