CANBERRA, June 11 (Xinhua) -- Australia's trade minister has urged the Opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP) to support a free trade agreement (FTA) with Indonesia as a matter of "national interest".
Simon Birmingham, the minister for trade, tourism and investment, told the Guardian Australia that he wanted the deal, which was signed by both nations in March, to be ratified by Parliament before the end of the year.
Speaking after the meeting of G20 trade ministers in Japan over the weekend, Birmingham said that signing FTAs with Indonesia, Peru and China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region carried additional importance with the rise of global protectionism.
It comes after Madeleine King, the ALP's trade spokesperson, said that the party would scrutinize the proposed Indonesia FTA before supporting it.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), which has expressed concerns about the effect the FTA would have on Australia's labour market, is one of the ALP's key stakeholders and will be consulted on the deal.
Labor pledged to reopen negotiations with Indonesia if it won the general election on May 18 but was defeated by the incumbent Liberal National Party (LNP) Coalition.
However, the narrow nature of the victory means that the LNP could require the support of Labor in the Senate to ratify trade agreements.
"I trust that they will put the national interest first in terms of the significance and strategic importance of our relationship with Indonesia and support its entry into force," Birmingham said.