Indonesia hopes that there will be a reciprocal green lane for essential travel with Singapore immediately, said President Joko Widodo on Tuesday (Sep 1).

Speaking with journalists from the foreign media, Mr Widodo expressed hope that the green lane would be a boost to bilateral ties, specifically in the economic and business sectors.

“We know that Singapore is the largest investor in Indonesia,” Mr Widodo said at the presidential palace in Bogor.

In the first quarter of 2020, Singapore was Indonesia’s top foreign investor, with a total of US$2.7 billion in realised investments, according to data from the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board.

The president also said the green lane can pave the way for investments coming into Indonesia. He did not elaborate on the specifics of the arrangement.

Last week, it was announced that Singapore and Indonesia are set to begin discussions on a reciprocal green lane to allow essential travel to gradually resume.

“Given the strong business links between Singapore and Indonesia, the two foreign ministers tasked the officials to begin discussions on a ‘reciprocal green lane’ to allow for essential travel to gradually resume in a manner that would safeguard public health and safety in both countries,” Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Currently, Singapore has reciprocal green lane arrangements with China, Malaysia and Brunei. 

Indonesia has similar arrangements with China, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates. 

The leaders of Indonesia and Singapore are also expected to meet later this year during an annual leaders’ retreat.  It is Indonesia’s turn to host the meeting this year.

When asked what would be at the top of the agenda, Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, said that are two main issues he would like to discuss during the retreat.

“Everything will revolve around the health and economic issues,” he said.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy has suffered from a contraction of 5.32 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, mainly due to social restrictions put in place to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, Mr Widodo said he is aiming for better economic growth in the third quarter. He added that he hopes to see positive growth in the last quarter of the year.

He also expressed optimism that with more investments in the near future and a potential COVID-19 vaccine being developed, Indonesia’s economy would have positive growth next year.