Indonesia, Australia sign pact eliminating many tariffs

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Indonesia and Australia signed a free-trade agreement, overcoming more than eight years of negotiations and 11th-hour delays in a move created to bolster their under-developed economic relationship.

Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita and his Australian counterpart Simon Birmingham wrapped up the multi-billion-dollar agreement in Jakarta, some nine years after negotiations first started.

"We believe the signing of IA CEPA will spark interests and excitement from both countries, and we are looking forward to a deeper partnership on a PPP centre, which is what Indonesia needs, especially for high quality design, structuring and documentation of projects", said Callista.

The Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) relaxes foreign ownership requirements for energy and infrastructure companies, amongst others.

Once in force, more than 99 per cent of Australia's goods exports will enter Indonesia either duty free or under improved and preferential arrangements.

"This agreement will enhance people-to-people connections between Indonesia and Australia, with working visas for Indonesians expanded from 1000 to 4100 per year". The country is on track be the world's fifth largest economy by 2030.

He said by opening up the trade to feed grain, the deal was bringing greater diversification into the Indonesian market.

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WA farmers and agribusinesses will be major winners from the new trade pact between Australia and Indonesia.

Grain Producers Australia chair, Andrew Weidemann, said the agreement would open the way for Australian grain to be delivered into the Indonesian feed grain market, a market it was now excluded from.

'Trade between the two countries has been too small, so we hope that with this agreement it will increase greatly, ' he added.

"Even though it will take time for legislation to pass both governments in Indonesia and Australia, we will still see grain move more or less straight away".

"The Australian steel industry will benefit in particular, with Indonesia agreeing to issue import permits for all rolled steel coil products".

Relations between Indonesia and Australia are often testy, but bilateral ties improved under former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, with the two nations agreeing to restore full military cooperation in 2017. "It lays a foundation to realise the economic potential of our partnership and Ai Group thanks and congratulates the negotiators and officials for their efforts in securing a successful outcome", Mr Willox said.

"This agreement is important for the Australian rural and regional economy, and we're very pleased with today's news", he said.

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