Australia and Indonesia to finally sign free trade agreement

Australia and Indonesia to finally sign free trade agreement
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham (left), Prime Minister Scott Morrison (centre left), President of Indonesia Joko Widodo and Indonesia Minister for Trade Enggartiasto Lukita (right). Photo: Australian Embassy Jakarta, Wikimedia Commons

After a long period of doubt over whether the deal would become a reality, the free trade agreement between Australia and Indonesia is set to be signed next Monday.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham is set to visit the Indonesian capital of Jakarta alongside a business delegation. He will meet to formally sign the deal with his Indonesian counterpart Enggartiasto Lukita.

After taking the job of Prime Minister after a leadership spill, Scott Morrison’s first international trip was to Indonesia where the current incarnation of the free trade agreement (FTA) was originally put together. The hope was that it would be signed before the end of 2018.

However, Mr Morrison’s suggestion that Australia may move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem as an act of solidarity with the Jewish state did not go over well in Indonesia. Indonesia is strongly pro-Palestine and openly expressed concern over Mr Morrison’s apparent captain’s call, suggesting that it would jeopardise the FTA.

Industry leaders have reacted positively to the news, with the chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, Innes Willox, saying that “until now our economic relationship (with Indonesia) until now has really been based around agriculture,” and that the FTA would “broaden” the amount of industries that can benefit.

CEO of the Northern Territory Cattlemen’s Association, Ashley Manicaros, said that the news was an “excellent result” for Australian farmers.