Australia's new PM due in Indonesia this week amid hopes on trade
JAKARTA, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Australia's new prime minister
is to visit Indonesia this week on his first overseas trip since
being sworn in, Indonesia's foreign ministry said on Monday,
amid expectation the neighbours are close to signing a free
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will meet Indonesian President
Joko Widodo on Friday for talks on their "bilateral
relationship, including economic cooperation, and other regional
issues", said ministry spokesman, Arrmanatha Nasir.
Morrison was sworn in on Friday after emerging the surprise
winner in an internal leadership challenge in his party.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Sunday
he is expected to announce that the two countries are on the
brink of signing a free trade agreement (FTA).
Nasir said he could not confirm if Widodo and Morrison would
discuss the FTA. An Australian embassy spokesman said he could
not confirm Morrison's visit to Jakarta.
Morrison's predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, had been scheduled
to travel to Jakarta in September. He and Widodo had set a
target of completing the free trade negotiations last year.
Separately on Monday, Indonesia's coordinating minister of
economic affairs, Darmin Nasution, said the substance of the
trade deal had been agreed on, but he could not confirm when it
would be signed.
Despite being close geographically, Australia was only the
14th-biggest buyer of Indonesian exports in 2017, while
Indonesia was the 10th-largest export destination for Australia,
according to the International Monetary Fund data.
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 falling rupiah
(Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa and Maikel Jefriando;
Writing by Gayatri Suroyo
Editing by Robert Birsel)
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