Indonesia woos Brunei investors
By Azlan Othman

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono wound up his two-day State visit to the country yesterday after calling on Brunei's businessmen to invest in Indonesia.

The president and his wife were seen off at the Brunei International Airport by His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office.

Earlier, the Indonesian president held a meeting with top officials from the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA), Royal Brunei Technical Service (RBTS) and Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB).

Yudhoyono first held a meeting with Pehin Dato Awg Hj Yahya, Chairman of BIA, and Dr. Hj Mohd Amin Abdullah, Managing Director of BIA, followed by a meeting with Pehin Yahya in his capacity as the Chairman of RBTS and another official from the Royal Brunei Technical Services. Later Yudhoyono met Timothy Ong, Acting Chairman of Brunei Economic Development Board, and Aziz Latip, Assistant CEO Business Development of BEDB.

Also present was Hassan Wirayuda, Indonesia's Minister of Foreign Affairs.

According to Nazirwan Hafiz, Minister Counselor for Information, Social & Culture of the Indonesian Embassy in Brunei, the meeting was to enhance cooperation in the economic field by exploring opportunities available in Brunei and to offer opportunities available in Indonesia for Brunei companies.

Indonesian Minister for Economic Coordinator, Budiyono, briefed on opportunities available in Indonesia. Among others, investments have been sought in infrastructures like TOL road service, piping transportation, rail routes, power plants and bridges.

In their talks with RBTS, Indonesia offered its products like the CN 234 aircraft and others. Indonesia is also looking for opportunities available in BEDB's projects in Pulau Muara Besar and Sungai Liang Industrial Park and offered labourers, materials like cement, iron bars and other construction needs.

The Indonesian president was pleased with the meetings and hoped that bilateral economic relations between both countries could be further enhanced in the near future. Antara News reported that the president explained about Indonesia's economic development and asked Brunei's businessmen to invest in Indonesia, according to Minister/State Secretary Yusril Ihza Maher.

Bilateral relations between Indonesia and Brunei has been growing steadily. Trade between the two countries in 2004 reached BND$587 million. Brunei's exports to Indonesia stood at $534 million, and Indonesia's exports to Brunei at $52 million, the news agency said.

In his speech Monday night during the State Banquet, President Yudhoyono hoped that Indonesia and Brunei could develop into a model for the development of moderate, friendly and tolerant Islam.

"As predominantly Muslim countries, we can continue our cooperation in the context of Islamic brotherhood," Yudhoyono said and added, the two countries could show to the international community that Islam is a religion of blessing for all.

About the four-eye meeting with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Yudhoyono said the meeting was expected to become the beginning of new era in the two countries' relations. - Borneo Bulletin (1st Mar 2006)