A speech that started with ‘G’day mate’ . . .
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, is visiting Australia this week as both Indo-Pacific countries seek to strengthen ties. Widodo is the 12th Indonesian leader to speak at the Australian Parliament during a 70-year-history of diplomatic relations. In his speech, Widodo emphasized how the shared values of pluralism, ethnic diversity, tolerance, and democracy – as well as their social media-savvy youth – are strong foundations on which to build closer, long-term ties. He also highlighted the need for both countries to partner on regional development and against the shared challenge of climate change.
Giving a boost to lukewarm trade . . .
The milestone visit has kick-started the Australia-Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (AI-CEPA) in the works since 2010 and finally ratified by the Indonesian Parliament last week, with a 100-day implementation plan presented by Widodo and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. AI-CEPA will bolster the partners’ C$16 billion in annual bilateral trade, gradually eliminating 94 per cent of tariffs for Australian goods, with all Indonesian exports entering the Australian market tariff-free. The agreement also allows Australian investment in Indonesia’s higher education sector, starting with the approval for Australia’s Monash University to open its first foreign university campus in Indonesia. Widodo also visited Mount Ainslie, Canberra’s highest viewpoint, commenting on how the city’s intelligent plan will serve as a model for Indonesia’s new capital in East Kalimantan.
A united stance . . .
Rapprochement between Jakarta and Canberra comes at the right moment as both countries are looking to diversify trade and expand diplomatic ties across the region amid global tensions and rising protectionism. Both countries are actively pursuing strategies to curb investment and trade dependence on China, and to forge robust ties with Pacific Island countries, South Korea, and Japan. Inaction on climate change and heavy carbon emissions by both Indonesia and Australia, however, undermine their diplomatic stance, especially towards Pacific Island countries that face existential threats from rising sea levels.
- South China Morning Post: Australia and Indonesia seal trade deal, hail ‘new beginning’ in ties
- The New Daily: Scott Morrison, Joko Widodo seal free trade deal
- The Jakarta Post: Australia and Indonesia must be partners in Pacific Development: Jokowi