Expanding horizons: Indonesia’s regional engagement in the Indo-Pacific era

 

On 20 September 2018, ANU Indonesia Project, together with the Indonesia Institute, hosted a special report launching of Perth USAsia Centre recent publication, titled Expanding horizons: Indonesia’s regional engagement in the Indo-Pacific era. Professor Gordon Flake, the founding CEO of the Perth USAsia Centre, kicked off the discussion with his talk on the systematic importance of Indonesia given its large territory and high-speed economic growth for economic and security developments in the region. He examined the evolving regional order that adopts new concept of the ‘regional space’ and reflects more on the region’s centre of gravity, hence put Indonesia as a critical player to what previously called ‘Asia-Pacific’ region.

The discussion then continued with a presentation given by Dr.Jeffrey Wilson, the Head of Research of the centre. The presentation outlined the missing piece in the Australia-Indonesia economic relationship. Given the geographic proximity of the two countries, Australia and Indonesia do not yet have a deep economic partnership, which then resulted in an imbalanced bilateral relationship. Weak economic complementarity and some policy and business barriers, such as persistence of high tariffs in key trade sectors, and the risk perception amongst business, are two notable main factors that holds the economic ties back. One way to overcome this relationship constraint is by shifting from bilateral to regional strategies in developing economic agreement, enabling the participation of business from other countries.

Dr Caroline Turner, deputy director of the Indonesia Institute, chaired the session. After the presentations, Dr Arianto Patunru from ANU Indonesia Project and Associate Professor Greg Fealy provided comments for the report. The event was attended by approximately 40 people, with a large number of students and ANU academics attended the seminar. There were also some representatives from the Indonesian Embassy and DFAT. The full version of the report is available here.

 

Expanding horizons