Australia will sign free trade deal with Indonesia before Christmas

Marco Green
September 2, 2018

Concluding a trade deal: posters of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (left) and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Bilateral trade between the neighbours was US$8.5 billion (S$11.6 billion) previous year, with Indonesia a incurring deficit of US$3.5 billion.

Australia and Indonesia have concluded negotiating a free trade agreement and it will hopefully be signed this year, Australia's trade minister said today.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Morrison signed a memorandum of understanding committing the countries to get a free trade deal done within months.

Boosting exports, including by securing market access for Indonesian products through FTAs, is also a priority for Widodo's government as it tries to put a floor under the country's falling rupiah currency.

Meanwhile, Chief of the Indonesian Cyber and State Code Djoko Setiadi signed an MoU with Ambassador for Cyber Affairs at the Australian Foreign Ministry Tobias Feakin.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the deal was timely recognition of the importance of Indonesia as near neighbours and trade partners.

Following the ceremony, Morrison and Jokowi held a tete-a-tete meeting at the palace's veranda, after which they joined the two countries' high-level delegations for bilateral talks.

And at a time when China's rising economic influence and military presence in the Asia-Pacific is causing growing concern, Mr Morrison reassured Beijing that Australia's deepening strategic relationships with nations including Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam, were no cause for concern.

The Australia Indonesia Business Council said as well as eliminating or reducing tariffs, the deal also includes efforts to build on complementary aspects of both economies.

Birmingham listed frozen meats, live cattle, feed grains, dairy, citrus and rolled steel as examples of Australian products destined for favourable treatment under the deal, without giving details.

It marks Morrison's first overseas visit since he was inaugurated on August 24 as the new prime minister by his fellow Liberal Party members following an internal party coup in a stunning upset over key challenger Peter Dutton.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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