Indonesia, Australia hope to announce economic partnership on Friday
(Recasts with quotes, details of talks)
JAKARTA, Aug 29 (Reuters) - The leaders of Indonesia and
Australia hope to announce on Friday the completion of
negotiations on an economic partnership pact aimed at boosting
trade between the neighbours, foreign ministry officials said.
Australia's new prime minister, Scott Morrison, will meet
President Joko Widodo at the Bogor palace south of Jakarta on
his first overseas trip since taking office last week after
winning an internal party leadership challenge.
Occasionally rocky ties between the two countries have
warmed recently, with Australia's former prime minister, Malcolm
Turnbull, appearing to enjoy a good rapport with Widodo.
"This is good momentum because everywhere else in the world
we are seeing a rise in protectionism," Indonesian foreign
ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir told a briefing, calling the
pact a "win-win solution" for the two countries.
Director for East Asia and Pacific Edi Yusuf said the two
sides hoped to finalise negotiations on the Indonesia Australia
Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) later on
The CEPA covers not just free trade pacts in goods, but also
services and rules on investment as well as intellectual
property, Yusuf said.
The agreement will free up Indonesia's unversity sector for
Australian investors, allowing up to 67 percent foreign
ownership, Yusuf said. Foreign investors are currently barred
from majority ownership in an Indonesian university.
Trade ministry official Imam Pambagyo said teams from the
the two countries were working "expeditiously to conclude
"Many gaps have been closed while a few remaining gaps look
quite possible to be closed as well," said Pambagyo, the
ministry's director general of international trade negotiations.
The deal, which has been discussed since 2012 and was
initially due to be completed last year, should be signed later
in 2018 after a legal vetting of documents, he added.
Indonesian officials declined to divulge further details,
but media reports said rules on farm goods, such as Australian
cattle exports to Indonesia, could be revised.
Despite being close geographically, Australia was only the
14th-biggest buyer of Indonesian products in 2017, while
Indonesia was the 10th-largest export destination for Australia,
International Monetary Fund data shows.
Indonesian data shows two-way trade was worth $8.5 billion
in 2017, with a deficit of $3.5 billion on Indonesia's side.
Measures to boost exports, such as securing market access
for Indonesian products through FTAs, are a priority for
Widodo's government as it tries to support a sliding rupiah
Morrison and Widodo are also expected to sign a strategic
comprehensive partnership and pacts on transport cooperation,
creative economy efforts and cyber technology.
(Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo; Additional reporting by
Bernadette Christina Munthe;
Writing by Ed Davies;
Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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