Indonesia and Australia signed economic partnership agreement

Vastavam web: Indonesia and Australia on Monday signed an economic partnership agreement aimed at stepping up trade and investment between them in areas ranging from cattle to education and cars to wheat. Though neighbors, the two countries are not top trade partners and the deal has been welcomed by Australian farmers looking to ship more agricultural commodities into Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, as well as by Indonesian companies producing footwear and textiles.

Following Monday’s signing, the two governments “will work on an expedited ratification process toward the entry into force of the agreement”, a joint statement said. The Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) will eliminate all Australian tariffs on imports from Indonesia, while 94 percent of Indonesian tariffs will be gradually removed, it said.

Negotiations were concluded in August and the deal had been due to be signed by the end of 2018, but diplomatic friction over Middle East policy delayed the signing. Australia’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital strained relations with Indonesia, which is the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country and supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian dispute. The trade deal “is a good step forward for the important bilateral relationship between these G20 nations, which has too often suffered because of political rows,” said Ben Bland, director of the Southeast Asia project at the Lowy Institute in Sydney.