Australia and Indonesia are neighbours. At a people-to-people level Australians and Indonesians have a strong relationship. Indonesia is the second most popular tourist destination for Australians, and, Australia has long been a popular campus for Indonesian students.
That said, despite our proximity neither country ranks as a top ten trading partner with the other. This is partly because of the cultural differences between the two nations, and also because we produce similar goods for export.
The business community submissions to the inquiry showed a strong desire to improve the trade relationship in a way that recognises our shared trade goals. Industry groups in both Indonesia and Australia understand that we have similar exports, but can see an opportunity for the two countries to leverage our individual strengths so that when we work together we become a joint regional powerhouse.
The governments of both countries are also working to improve the trade relationship. At present, our two nations are negotiating an Indonesia-Australia Regional Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA), which is expected to be finalised later this year. This agreement is intended to be broader than a standard free trade agreement. The leaders of both nations want this agreement to liberalise the trading environment for goods, services, and investments.
These negotiations were welcomed by submitters to this inquiry. Key submitters also called for innovation, bold thinking and big ideas from both business and government to drive the trade relationship forward.
I thank all those who contributed to the inquiry.
I would like to particularly thank the Deputy Chair, Senator Murray Watt for his cooperation during the inquiry. The Committee chose to report early in order to make a positive contribution to the IA-CEPA negotiations and I thank committee members for their contribution to the inquiry and the report. I also wish to thank the secretariat, Committee Secretary, Melanie Brocklehurst, and Inquiry Secretaries, Siobhán Leyne and Paul Zinkel for their work.
Mr Ken O'Dowd MP

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