Monday, 17 January 2022

Australia-Indonesia trade negotiations concluded


SYDNEY: Australia and Indonesia have concluded negotiating a free trade agreement and it will hopefully be signed this year, Australia’s trade minister said on Friday.

The neighbouring countries have been in on-and-off negotiations since 2010, and their conclusion comes as new Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is scheduled to meet Indonesian President Joko Widodo later on Friday.

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

“What we’re acknowledging today is the conclusion of negotiations,” Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio from Jakarta.

“From here we then go on to settle all of the final text, but the contents of that text has now been agreed, we just have to get all of it in order for signature.”

“Ultimately over 90 percent of Australian goods exported by value to Indonesia will enter duty free or under significantly improved arrangements,” Birmingham said. That was up from 85 percent under previous deals, he added.

“We hope the final agreement will be signed this year.”

Indonesia, southeast Asia’s largest economy, is Australia’s 13th-largest trading partner and government figures put annual two-way trade at A$16.4 billion ($12 billion) in 2016-2017.

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.

Australia was the 14th-biggest buyer of Indonesian exports in 2017.

The visit to Jakarta is the first for both Morrison and Birmingham in their respective new roles as Australian Prime Minister and Trade Minister, since Malcolm Turnbull was ousted in a party leadership coup last week.

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