Australian Economy

Anthony Albanese visits Indonesia in bid to reboot economic ties

“Our two countries have a long history of co-operation and friendship, and my government will work with Indonesia to deepen this.

“During my visit, I look forward to building our ties further, including to revitalise our trade relationship and promote climate, infrastructure and energy co-operation.”

Jakarta’s tensions with China

The Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was ratified in early 2020, but the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic soon after meant businesses could not take full advantage of the deal. It eliminates or cuts tariffs on 99 per cent of Australian exports by value and was meant to make it easier for young Indonesians to come to Australia for working holidays and study.

Australian prime ministers historically make Indonesia their first overseas trip, although Mr Albanese went to Tokyo last week for the Quad leaders’ summit.

Indonesia has sought to balance its relationships with China and Western countries, although tensions with Beijing have emerged in recent years, particularly over Chinese fishing around Indonesia’s Natuna islands.

Chinese coastguard vessels have been dispatched with the fishing fleet, while Indonesia has bolstered its security presence around the islands. A news report last month said Indonesia was considering holding joint exercises with the US on the islands.

Mr Joko has also been put in a difficult position as host of this year’s G20.

He confirmed in April that Mr Putin would attend the November summit, despite US President Joe Biden saying the Russian leader should be disinvited and former prime minister Scott Morrison saying it would be a “step too far” to sit around a table with him after the invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Albanese said during the election campaign he would task Senator Wong to do the “diplomatic legwork” to ensure the G20 held Mr Putin to account.

Meanwhile, Senator Wong expressed concern on Friday that New Zealand could join Australia as a Chinese target for economic coercion.

Chinese diplomats and state media have attacked NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern over a joint statement with Mr Biden that was critical of Beijing over several issues and reaffirmed opposition to a Chinese military presence in the South Pacific.

China’s ambassador to New Zealand said in a speech that New Zealand’s “clean green image” in China for its exports could not be taken for granted.

Responding to those comments, Senator Wong said the rules-based order ensured countries could deal with each other with respect and predictability.

“We have an interest in a world where trade and economic engagement is open, is free and is predicated on rules, predictable rules, and norms,” she said as she wrapped up a two-day visit to Samoa and Tonga.

“The concern that Australia has raised about the Chinese economic measures against Australia is that they undermine that principle.”

Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi Sovalen, who hosted Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Tuesday, told a joint press conference with Senator Wong that Tonga and Australia shared “respect for democracy and rule of law and the rights and freedoms of others, and this remains the important tenets of our relations”.

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