The Jakarta Post
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has expressed his hopes that the ratification of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) will also have a positive impact on the peoples of both countries in addition to strengthening bilateral ties.
Jokowi met with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Parliament House in Canberra on Monday, during which the two leaders held a meeting and discussed the landmark trade deal and other issues as the two countries commemorated 70 years of bilateral relations.
“The IA-CEPA has been ratified by both countries, which means economic relations between the two countries will improve comprehensively and the people of the two nations should also benefit from [the trade deal],” Jokowi said during a joint press statement on Monday.
The IA-CEPA, which was inked last year and ratified by the House of Representatives on Feb. 6, aims to significantly reduce tariffs on commodity exports between the two neighboring countries and offer various investment privileges, as Indonesia strives to boost exports and attract foreign investment to help spur its sluggish economic growth.
Indonesia recorded a trade deficit of US$3.2 billion last year, marking a significant improvement over the $8.7 billion recorded in 2018.
The trade deal also promises improved access for Australian cattle and sheep farmers to Indonesia’s market of 260 million people, while greater access to the Australian market is expected to help Indonesia’s textile and automotive industries and boost exports of timber, electronics and pharmaceuticals.
Jokowi went on to express hopes that the trade deal could be promptly implemented through the IA-CEPA 100-day implementation program, including through Australia Business Week in Indonesia, as well as the visit of some major Australian private investors to the archipelago.
Morrison, meanwhile, said the trade agreement would strengthen cooperation between Jakarta and Canberra as he hoped that the agreement would boost economic growth for the next decade.
“Indonesia will become one of the biggest economic powers in the world. The mutually beneficial agreement will ensure that our economies will be integrated in the future,” Morrison said.
Prior to the bilateral meeting between the two countries’ delegations, Jokowi held a tête-à-tête with Morrison at the Prime Minister’s Suite, where the President expressed his condolences and sympathy to the victims of the Australian bushfire crises.
“My visit to Australia also shows that Indonesia will always stand together with the Australian people in good and bad times. A friend in need is a friend indeed,” Jokowi said.
Jokowi also said that his state visit to Australia — the fourth since he took office — was also a special moment as it coincided with the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Australia.
He said that while there was a lot of progress that had been achieved during the past seven decades, both countries must work hard to ensure a robust relationship between them.
Jokowi and Morrison also oversaw the signing of two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) on the action plan of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership as well as transportation security cooperation by the two countries’ ministers following the bilateral meeting. (mpr)