Australian, Indonesian leaders unveil plan to implement landmark trade deal

Source: Xinhua| 2020-02-10 14:38:30|Editor: Xiaoxia
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CANBERRA, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has identified Indonesia as a key player in his push to diversify the Australian economy.

Morrison on Monday met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Canberra days after the Indonesian parliament ratified a comprehensive free trade deal between the two countries.

Widodo became the first Indonesian leader to address the Australian parliament since Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono did so in 2010.

"Indonesia and Australia must enforce open, free and fair economic principles. Whilst protectionism is rising, we must continue to advocate the economic openness and fairness," he said.

"I very much believe an open and fair economic system will be beneficial for all.

"As democratic and diverse countries, we must work hard, side by side together, to defend the values of democracy, tolerance and diversity and to look at the clash of civilization."

Prior to his speech, Morrison said that Widodo's visit was "emblematic" of the growing relationship between the neighboring countries.

"Indonesia will see significant growth over the next decade," he told News Corp Australia.

"Resilience is the most important thing you can do in the economy with the economic and strategic situation as it is. Indonesia is a big partner."

The pair on Monday announced a 100-day action plan to implement the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA), which was finalized in March 2019 after eight years of negotiations.

Two-way trade between Australia and Indonesia was worth 17.8 billion Australian dollars (11.8 billion U.S. dollars) in financial year 2018-19.

Indonesia is Australia's 13th-largest trading partner but Simon Birmingham, Australia's trade minister, said that the trade relationship has been "underdone" in the past and Indonesia is set to climb the list following the trade deal.

"This is a win-win agreement where stronger economic ties should also help to facilitate closer security, strategic and people-to-people ties between our two countries," he said in a statement on Sunday night.

"With more than 99 percent of Australia's goods exports set to enter Indonesia either duty free or under improved arrangements, we should have high ambition to see them jump up the list.

"Our trade deals with China, Japan and South Korea have seen exports boom and I am confident we will now see real growth with Indonesia."

Morrison hosted Widodo for an informal dinner on Sunday along with Marise Payne, Australia's foreign minister, and her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi.

In addition to trade, they also discussed counter-terrorism efforts and Widodo's proposal for visa requirements for Indonesians entering Australia to be relaxed, which, according to News Corp Australia, Morrison is "considering."