Taiwan and Indonesia signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Taipei on Tuesday to jointly develop the small island of Morotai in North Maluku Province, Representative to Indonesia Andrew Hsia (夏立言) said yesterday.
According to the memorandum, the two countries will establish a steering committee to plan and execute the project, the size and make-up of which remains to be determined, Hsia said during a press conference.
The project would be modeled after the establishment of the special economic zone with Singapore in Batam in Indonesia’s Riau Islands Province in the 1990s, the representative said.
The Indonesian government will undertake infrastructure construction and provide Taiwanese businesspeople with various incentives to help them develop the island, which is rich in history, as well as fishery, marine, and tourism resources, the diplomate said.
After various field trips to the island by Taiwanese officials, the governments of Indonesia and Taiwan agreed that the island has a high potential for forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, as well as eco-tourism, and could also serve as a base for Taiwanese fishermen to go deep-sea fishing, the representative said.
Hsia said the project will not require Taiwanese government funds, but the government-affiliated International Cooperation and Development Fund will encourage local businesses to invest in the project and provide assistance.
Morotai has a population of 50,000 and an area of about 2,400km2, about the size of New Taipei City (新北市).
Hsia said Morotai has seen its population increase to about 70,000 after the idea to develop it jointly with Taiwan was proposed by Jakarta two years ago.
The Indonesian government has been encouraging migration to the island and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently announced that Morotai would be designated a special economic zone, Hsia said.