Australia could water down Indonesia travel warnings ahead of historic trade deal

Australia and Indonesia will sign a free trade agreement, boosting the near $18 billion two-way trade that already exists between the two countries.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo shakes hands with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison after signing the official visitors book at Parliament House.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo shakes hands with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison after signing the official visitors book at Parliament House. Source: Pool AAP Image

Australia will open Indonesia's first foreign university campus and consider watering down its travel warnings in a show of unity between the two countries, as a historic trade deal begins.

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison says challenges around terrorism, foreign fighters and influence are still front of mind.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his wife Iriana are in Canberra for an official visit, with a new trade deal to be signed on Monday.

Mr Widodo addresses the Australian Parliament in the House of Representatives.
Source: Pool AAP Image

The agreement, passed by the Indonesian parliament last week, is aimed at boosting multi-billion dollar ties.

In a joint press conference, Mr Morrison announced Monash University will set-up Indonesia's first foreign campus - a move he described as "a very good example of how this is a two-way street".

The deal was made possible after the Indonesian government finalised regulations allowing foreign universities as part of a push to improve the country's higher education performance.

Mr Morrison also detailed plans to ease travel between the countries.

"We are pleased that our home affairs minister here in Australia will be engaging with his Indonesian counterpart to proceed to look at how we can simplify and streamline the issues of entry into Australia," he said.

"We also agreed to reconsider and look at the issues of travel advice into Indonesia, particularly for those areas most frequented by Australian visitors.

The PM and Mr Widodo shake hands before his address to the House of Representatives.
Source: AAP

"We have also discussed today the many challenges around counterterrorism, foreign terror fighters and counter foreign influence."

Australia's travel advisory level for Indonesia is at level two: "exercise a high degree of caution".

Mr Widodo said the agreement was a significant step forward in the relationship between the countries and within the broader Indo-Pacific region.

"Indonesia hopes Australia can become an important partner in infrastructure investment, as well as education," he told reporters through an interpreter.

Mr Widodo addressed members and senators in federal parliament, an honour granted to his predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2010.

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the Indonesian leader "a leader for our times", on Monday, following the president's speech to parliament. 

The president was given a ceremonial welcome on Sunday at Government House - the official residence of the Governor-General David Hurley - where he was also greeted by foreign secretary Marise Payne.

Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the agreement with one of the world's fastest-growing economies would be a major boost for Australian farmers through lower tariffs and improved access.

Indonesian goods will be subject to zero tariffs when entering Australia, while tariffs on 94 per cent of Australian goods imported to Indonesia will be eliminated gradually.

Australian Governor-General David Hurley (right) and Indonesian President Joko Widodo (left).
Source: AAP

Indonesia and Australia already enjoy bilateral trade worth $17.8 billion.

The deal is considered important as Australia diversifies its economy and moves away from a heavy reliance on China.

HOW DOES TRADE DEAL WITH INDONESIA HELP AUSTRALIA?

* Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement comes with a 100-day action plan, to deliver benefits for farmers and businesses.

* 99 per cent of Australian goods exports by value will enter Indonesia duty free, or with significantly improved preferential arrangements, upon entry into force.

* Better and more certain access for Australian business, including agriculture (cattle, beef, sheep meat, feed grains and citrus), manufacturing (steel, copper, plastics), vocational and higher education services; services and investment (tourism, mining, healthcare and aged care, telecommunications, energy, infrastructure, professional services).

* Security ties are improved with shared commitments across defence, counter-terrorism and people-smuggling, maritime.

* Reaffirmed commitment to the Lombok Treaty, as the bedrock both countries defence and security relationship.

* Closer work on the environment including oceans and waste/plastic policy

* Over one million Australians visit Indonesia each year (number two destination for all Australians travelling overseas)

* Work to begin on improving visa system to streamline entry into Australia for Indonesians

* Re-evaluation of travel advisories where they are limiting the number of Australians visiting certain parts of Indonesia

* New energy dialogue to be set up, sharing clean energy technology and services

* Australian pension and superannuation funds to get greater access to invest in Indonesia

with AAP...


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Published 10 February 2020 at 1:13pm, updated 10 February 2020 at 1:47pm
By SBS News