Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull talks with Indonesian President Joko Widodo during their visit to the Tanah Abang market in Central Jakarta on Thursday. (Reuters Photo/Dita Alangkara)

Australia PM Says Indonesia Welcome in TPP as Frictions Ease


NOVEMBER 12, 2015

Jakarta. Australia would welcome Indonesia into the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Thursday, as the two countries set aside past friction to focus on building closer economic ties.

Turnbull met Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Jakarta as part of an effort to restore diplomatic and economic relations, which reached a historic low under the previous Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott.

“The closer we are, the higher the intensity in our relationship, and the higher also the potential for frictions,” Joko said at the State Palace palace at the beginning of their meeting.

Turnbull, who replaced Abbott as prime minister in September, inherited ties strained by rows over spying, the execution of Australian citizens in Indonesia, and tough Australian asylum-seeker policies.

“With our great meeting, we have really strong momentum to work in making our two great nations, greater still,” Turnbull told reporters as the two leaders toured Indonesia’s biggest retail market, in Central Jakarta.

He said Australia would support any effort by Indonesia to join the TPP, which will set common standards on issues ranging from workers’ rights to intellectual property protection in 12 Pacific nations.

“If Indonesia chooses to apply to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we would support the application, absolutely,” Turnbull said.

Joko said last month during a visit to Washington that he intended to join the TPP. But government officials in Jakarta said it could take years for Indonesia to be ready.

Turnbull and Joko also discussed improving cooperation to fight terrorism. The two countries cooperate closely on counterterrorism, an area of growing concern as Islamic State militants seek footholds outside the Middle East, where Australia is bombing the group as part of a US-led military campaign.

Indonesia is Australia’s 10th-largest overall trading partner and is the largest export market for Australian wheat, worth A$1.3 billion ($917 million) in 2014, as well as a major destination for live cattle and sugar.

Australia will send its largest business delegation to Indonesia next week, with more than 300 companies expected to be represented.