Business groups from Indonesia and Australia have gathered in Canberra this week to support officials from the two nations engaged in the sixth round of negotiations for the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement ahead of an important visit to Australia by Indonesian President Joko Widodo.
The Business Partnership Group, which comprises six business advocacy groups from the two countries, urged the officials to make strong headway in the negotiations in order to reach an agreement by August, the target date set by ministers.
The Group has provided two reports to negotiators (in 2012 and 2016) on what business wants from an agreement and how that can be achieved. We have called for the agreement to realise the power of collaboration between our two countries to meet the challenges of global markets. This should not be a traditional free-trade agreement; instead it should be a comprehensive economic partnership.
We wish to harness the comparative advantages of both countries, a combined marketplace of nearly 300 million people, and work together to service the 3 billion people in our region and many more beyond.
The complementarity of the two economies offers an exciting backdrop for the negotiations. One neighbour’s weaknesses are the other’s strengths, one’s problems the other’s opportunities. These are ideal settings for strong partnerships spanning agriculture to education, infrastructure to tourism.
All countries aspire to improve the living standards of their people; that means eating better quality food, breathing cleaner air and enjoying the fruits of higher quality jobs. This agreement will assist us to join together to build better infrastructure, give more people work skills and offer new opportunities for business.
We urge our negotiators to work efficiently to reach a high-quality deal that unleashes the potential of the combined economies of Australia and Indonesia.