Australia, Indonesia seal talks on FTA

JAKARTA • Indonesia and Australia announced the conclusion to talks on a free trade agreement (FTA) as the Pacific neighbours attempt to boost economic ties.

In his first overseas trip since becoming Australia’s prime minister (PM) last week, Scott Morrison met with President Joko Widodo in Bogor, outside the capital Jakarta, where they committed to finalising the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA). The two also signed memoranda of understanding on transport, the creative economy and cyber security cooperation.

Both Morrison and Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita told reporters the IA-CEPA, an agreement years in the making, would be signed by November.

“Now, we need to work on the legal scrubbing and the translations in two languages, which will be completed and signed this November. But there will be no more negotiations.” Lukita said.

Although the deal was negotiated at the direction of previous PM Malcolm Turnbull, who lost the leadership in a ballot of ruling Liberal party lawmakers recently, it will be seen by the business community as a sign of continuity under Morrison.

Talks to start the pact began in 2010 before stalling amid diplomatic tensions; they were revived in March 2016, and have had to overcome key hurdles, including Australia’s push for more beef imports into Indonesia and removal of barriers and tariffs on Indonesian products.

Both countries will continue to collaborate on regional and global issues including terrorism, Widodo said. — Bloomberg