A trade breakthrough with Indonesia is only for the patient

Australia Indonesia trade relationship

The sometimes rocky Australia-Indonesia relations have been given a major shot in the arm with the meetings between Prime Minister Turnbull and President Joko Widodo the weekend before last – and again today. Australia’s relations with Indonesia are complex, broad-ranging and arguably more challenging than any of our major bilateral relationships. As in this case, when leaders meet and develop rapport, it sends a signal to the rest of the government, and the broader community, not only that the relationship matters but that it’s time to develop practical new initiatives to strengthen ties.

One such practical initiative is a renewed commitment to finalise the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IACEPA). As a goodwill gesture to get the ball rolling, at the earlier weekend meeting the countries’ trade ministers announced some minor but symbolic concessions, pesticides and insecticides on the Australian side, sugar and beef from Indonesia.

IACEPA has been in the works for over a decade. The obvious questions are, will it be delivered this time and, if so, will it have any substance?

Read the rest of the article, available from the Financial Review.

This opinion piece is written by Hal Hill, Arianto Patunru and Budy Resosudarmo from ANU Indonesia Project.