Sun, Dec 05, 2010 - Page 3 News List

No progress on Indonesian island investment proposal

Staff Writer, with CNA

No formal talks have been launched over the possibility of Taiwan investing in an Indonesian island, Taiwan’s representative to Indonesia Andrew Hsia (夏立言) said.

Earlier this year, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono through his ministers invited Taiwan to invest in Moratai Island, an island one-15th the size of Taiwan, with an area of 2,400km2, on the northern tip of Indonesia.

The proposal was made to Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-shiang (施顏祥), who led a delegation of over 100 businesspeople to Indonesia in October to study the local economic and trade environment.

Hsia, who has visited Moratai, said the sparsely populated island of roughly 50,000 people is a prime location for investments in fisheries, agriculture, light industry and tourism because it does not experience typhoons or cold fronts.

Once the military headquarters for US General Douglas MacArthur during World War II, the remote islet is equipped with a seven-runway airport, which adds to its appeal Hsia said.

While some speculated the deal could be cemented early next year, Hsia insisted no timeline has been set.

“Both sides are carefully evaluating the options. There are still many outstanding issues to be assessed such as what are the collective interests in the project and what mutual benefits might arise from this collaboration,” Hsia said, adding that both sides are still mulling over the details.

A formal trade pact with Jakarta still remains in the distant future, he added.

“Both sides are very positive about our current trade relationship, but we are still not at a stage where we can even begin to discuss a free trade agreement,” he said.

As the largest economy in Southeast Asia, Indonesia has long been viewed favorably by Taiwanese investors, especially after the formation of an ASEAN-China Free Trade Area which went into effect on Jan. 1.

Indonesia is Taiwan’s 10th largest trade partner and Taiwanese investment in Indonesia has to date amounted to over US$13.9 billion.

Taiwan is also the most popular destination for Indonesian overseas workersbecause of its higher salaries and benefits, Hsia said.

According to the Council of Labor Affairs, there are currently about 150,000 Indonesian workers in Taiwan, which accounts for approximately 40 percent of the total foreign labor force in the country.

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