Trade deal with Indonesia ‘very close’ despite setbacks, Steven Ciobo



Australia insists it is close to securing a free trade agreement with Indonesia, despite missing a self-imposed, end-of-year deadline.

“The number one priority right now is to conclude the Indonesia free trade agreement,” Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said.

“We know our trade and economic relationship with Indonesia is underweight given the relative significance of both Indonesia’s and Australia’s economies”, ABC reported.

The Coalition will be hoping it can have the deal signed in time for a special meeting of Association of South-Eeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Sydney in March.

Mr Ciobo said he was “very close” to finalising the agreement, but is no longer willing to set out a timeframe.

The success of the free trade agreements with South Korea (2014), China (2015) and Japan (2017) is driving the push for further trade liberalisation.

2018 will be a year of tough trade talks, with the Federal Government also trying to lure Canada back to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after she walked away in November from the groundbreaking atbthe last minute.

“We’re putting a lot of focus on the TPP-11, [we’re] obviously very invested in trying to make that happen,” Mr Ciobo said.