Yahoo News - 07 February 2020
Indonesia ratifies Australia trade deal
By Paul Osborne
The Indonesian parliament has given the green light to a new trade deal with Australia, paving the way for the agreement to be signed in Canberra on Monday.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo, who arrives this weekend, will address parliament and sign the agreement alongside Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said it was a major opportunity to get more Australian goods and services into Indonesia.
"With Indonesia being one the fastest growing economies in the world, this deal will provide a major boost for Australian farmers — with producers of grains, beef, dairy and horticulture, and many other products all set to benefit from lower tariffs and improved access," Senator Birmingham said.
"Australian services suppliers and investors will benefit through greater certainty for entry and operation in the Indonesian market, including guaranteed levels of Australian ownership in a range of sectors."
It will also be the first Australian trade deal to include a dedicated chapter on "non-tariff barriers".
Indonesian goods will be subjected to zero tariffs when entering Australia, while tariffs on 94 per cent of Australian goods imported to Indonesia will be eliminated gradually.
The deal would allow 99 per cent of Australian goods to enter Indonesia duty free or under significantly better preferential arrangements.
Under the deal, Australian universities will be able to operate in Indonesia and Australians can have greater stakes in tourism, health and mining companies in the country.
Bilateral trade between Indonesia and Australia was worth $17.8 billion in 2018.
The deal’s signing was delayed after Mr Morrison said in late 2018 Australia was considering moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, is a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause and has warned against such a move because it could undermine the Middle East peace process.
Human Rights Watch’s Elaine Pearson said Indonesia’s persecution of minorities should also be raised during the talks.
"While Indonesia is often seen as the good news story in Southeast Asia, over the past year the human rights situation took a turn for the worse - problematic new laws nearly passed, abusive old ones continue to be enforced, and minorities didn’t get the legal protection they need," she said.
As well, human rights observers should be allowed entry into Papua to investigate alleged violations.