Australia-Indonesia leaders meet in Jakarta to seal trade deal
(Recasts with comments from Australian PM)
SYDNEY, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Australia's prime minister called
for greater investment and engagement with Indonesia on Friday,
ahead of talks with his Indonesian counterpart on a free trade
deal that could be signed later this year.
The Asian neighbours have been in prolonged trade talks
since 2010, with diplomatic tensions between the two sides
occasionally stalling the negotiations.
"The economic relationship is where we're underdone," Prime
Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Jakarta before the
meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo later on Friday.
"Its the economic relationship that needs more ballast, more
grunt, more investment, more engagement and that is what we're
here to set off today with this new arrangement," Morrison said.
Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said in a radio
interview that negotiations had concluded and he hoped that a
"final agreement will be signed this year".
"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," Birmingham told the
Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio from Jakarta.
Although Indonesia is Southeast Asia's largest economy and
Australia the 13th largest in the world, their trading
relationship is limited and neither count the other as a top
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.
Australia was the 14th-biggest buyer of Indonesian exports
in 2017, while Indonesia is Australia's 13th-largest trading
partner, with Australia putting two-way trade at A$16.4 billion
($12 billion) in 2016-2017.
Some 90 percent of Australian goods exported to Indonesia,
by value, would enter duty free or "under significantly improved
arrangements" under the deal, Birmingham said, adding that was
up from 85 percent under previous deals.
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.
The visit to Jakarta is the first for Morrison and
Birmingham in their respective new roles as prime minister and
trade minister, since Malcolm Turnbull was ousted in a party
leadership battle last week.
($1 = 1.3765 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Tom Westbrook
Editing by Chris Reese and Darren Schuettler)
First Published: 2018-08-31 00:01:20
Updated 2018-08-31 08:24:55
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