FRIDAY, 31 AUGUST 2018
SUBJECT: Australia Indonesia Free Trade Agreement
CLARE: The Prime Minister will meet with the President of Indonesia later this afternoon. We don’t have the details of where trade discussions are at but I thought I might make some general comments about trade with Indonesia.
Australia doesn’t trade with Indonesia anywhere near as much as we could, or anywhere near as much as we should. In fact two way trade between Australia and Indonesia has gone backwards over the last five years.
You could say we’re like next door neighbours who barely look over the fence. We don’t talk to each other or work with each other anywhere near as much as we should.
A good example of that is compare our own trading relationship with New Zealand, with our trading relationship with Indonesia. Our other next door neighbour New Zealand, a country of less than five million people, at the moment there’s about 18,000 Australian companies doing business in New Zealand. By contrast there’s only about 2,000 Australian companies that are doing business in Indonesia. Another way to show the stark difference in the amount of trade and interaction we have with New Zealand and Indonesia is the fact that at the moment there’s about 37 flights a day from Australia to Auckland and only about two or three from Australia to Jakarta.
We’ve got to fix this. We’ve got to fix that gap. The absence of trade and interaction with Indonesia. We’ve got to turn that around. And if a trade agreement can be struck that creates more trade and increases jobs here in Australia, then that’s good news. We wait to see the details of that agreement.
To give you an idea about the challenge and the opportunity ahead, at the moment Australia’s economy is around about the same size as Indonesia’s economy. Our GDP is roughly the same. It’s predicted that if Indonesia keeps growing the way it is that Indonesia’s economy is going to be three times Australia’s economy within a decade. Now if we don’t pull our finger out and get in there and sell our goods and services to Indonesia then somebody else will. Australian companies are going to miss out. And so that’s why it’s important that we strike a good deal and that Australian businesses take the opportunity that a good deal might provide to get in there and do more business.
A trade deal is just the start. A trade deal opens doors but it’s up to Australian businesses to walk through those doors. And that’s why we’ve said that if Labor wins the next election that as part of part of our Future Asia Plan, one of the things that we’ll do is seek the agreement of the Indonesian Government to have regular annual meetings of our Treasurer and our Trade Minister with the Indonesian Finance Minister and the Indonesian Trade Minister. So we can sit down every year, talk about the agreement, how do we squeeze as much value and opportunity for businesses in Indonesia and Australia out of this agreement. Because it’s not good enough just to sign an agreement. We need more businesses in Australia to use this agreement. Walk through the door that’s created by a trade agreement, and do business in Indonesia and create more jobs for Australians here at home.
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