Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be speaking with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on trade and security during his visit to Jakarta. This will be Turnbull’s second meeting with the Indonesian leader in less than two weeks.
Turnbull will be in the Indonesian capital for the 20th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) on Tuesday. It comes nine days after the leaders of the two countries met during Widodo’s first visit to Australia as Indonesia’s president.
Widodo has described the Indian Ocean as the "future." The region houses 2.7 billion people and serves as a pivotal transport route for a large number of international oil and half of the world’s container ships.
Following 17 years of negotiations, Turnbull and Widodo finalised a bilateral free-trade agreement during the latter’s visit to Australia. As part of the deal, all restrictions in the trade of Indonesian palm oil and paper must be lifted, Widodo said. The trade concessions made by Indonesia, including lower tariffs on Australia sugar and cutting down on restrictions on Australian live cattle imports, were welcomed by Turnbull.
According to Fairfax Media, Thomas Lembong, Indonesian trade official and chairman of Indonesia's Investment Coordinating Board, said the government wanted to ascertain there were no barriers in the export of Indonesian palm oil, paper and wood products. “If even the commodities in which we have the lowest cost, the strongest comparative advantage are not entering the Australian market, it feels like something might be wrong,” he said.
Turnbull also said he received the IORA Concord, proposed by Indonesia – which will constitute of a commitment to international law and promote regional economic growth. Indonesia has also expressed desire to create a statement of governance in the region. With this, it hopes to establish guidelines that will steer the Indian Ocean away from become disputed waters.
On Monday, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop met with her Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi at the IORA. The two talked about opportunities to enhance trade and tackle extremism in the region.
In 2015, the total trade between the IORA nations amounted to US$777 billion (AU$1019.8 billion), according to a press release by Indonesia Investments. This was seen as a significant growth from US$233 billion (AU$305.8 billion) in 1994. As much as 70 percent of the global trade happens through the Indian Ocean. Nevertheless, the IORA nations account for only 10 percent of the total global gross domestic product (GDP). Ninety six percent of trade under the umbrella of IORA is conducted by nations including Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, India and South Africa.