Remarks at Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) Signing Ceremony

04 March 2019

Your Excellency Mr Vice President, thank you for honouring us with your presence today. Excellencies, Ministers, Ambassador, my parliamentary colleague and predecessor as Minister, Steve Ciobo, distinguished leaders of business, industry. Good morning, selamat pagi.

This is an historic occasion. The signing of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement brings our two nations closer together than ever before. It marks a new chapter of cooperation, of economic engagement, that will further deepen the ties between our people, contributing to a shared future of greater prosperity and cooperation.

IA-CEPA is more than just a trade agreement. It is a pillar in the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership between our nations, strengthening not just our economic relations, but also ultimately our political, security, development, maritime, education and people-to-people ties. With today's signing, Indonesia and Australia are sending a message – a message to the world that cooperation and trust within a framework of modern and ambitious trade rules is the best path forward.

We are providing new opportunities for our farmers, our teachers and our students, our people to stand side-by-side, to learn from each other, to create and build prosperity together. Under IA-CEPA, for example, Australian vocational training providers can help to train the future workforce in Indonesia. We appreciate that strengthening Indonesia's education and training system is a core priority of President Widodo, upskilling your young and dynamic workforce, preparing them for the jobs of tomorrow. Australian training providers, who are consistently ranked amongst the world's best, are well-placed to support the President's agenda. Such training will help your tourism workers, your steelworkers, your farmers and nurses, helping Indonesian businesses and exporters to compete on the global stage.

This is just one part of an innovative skills package, that includes a reciprocal skills exchange allowing certain professionals to gain six months' experience working in each other's markets, as Minister Lukita outlined before. Hundreds of Indonesians will also be able to engage in six month work training opportunities in Australia, while over a period of six years, young Indonesians will under this agreement receive access to more Work and Holiday visas, increasing in number, as you've heard, from 1000 today, to an annual total of 5000.

In addition to these education and training opportunities, we know that an important priority for Indonesia is to secure increased levels of investment, to fuel your growth. IA-CEPA will encourage further Australian investment in Indonesia by providing more certainty for Australian investors. Australian businesses and service providers have helped construct enormous energy and infrastructure projects right across Australia's vast land mass. Under IA-CEPA they will have stronger incentives to explore new projects and new opportunities in Indonesia, helping to spread the expertise they have gained in Australia right across the Indonesian archipelago. Investment will help support economic development in Indonesia, especially in priority sectors such as energy, infrastructure and tourism.

We are already acting to deliver on this investment mandate. Right now around 50 Australian investors and service providers are in Makassar for the Australian Eastern Indonesian Tourism Forum, exploring the opportunities with Indonesian businesses to build sustainable tourism infrastructure and to establish new tourism markets. A similar event will be held in Lombok next month.

IA-CEPA provides us with an exciting opportunity to work together to increase the competitiveness of production here in Indonesia and to boost the export of collaboratively products into third country markets. During the negotiations of this agreement, this concept of mutual benefit and engagement in shared product was called the powerhouse concept and it is an exciting part of our future trade and investment relationship. Under the Indonesia-Australia powerhouse, our companies will use inputs from both countries to add value and create high-quality products that are in demand around the world.

Australian grains and Indonesian noodles are a case in point. Wheat already represents a sizeable part of Australia's agricultural exports to Indonesia. That Australian wheat is milled into flour here in Indonesia, creating jobs in your flour mills. That flour is then used to produce the world-famous Indomie noodles, providing work for your food processors and those Indomie noodles are packaged and enjoyed by millions of people in Indonesia and around the world, including back in Australia where the grains were grown in the first place. IA-CEPA will build on and create many more such successes into the future.

Under IA-CEPA Australian feed grains will soon also be providing a reliable and quality source of nutrition for your animals here in Indonesia. This will help lift productivity and grow Indonesia's cattle sector, as well as the aquaculture and poultry industries. That in turn will boost Indonesian production of important protein sources such as beef, seafood and chicken, supporting the goal of food security in Indonesia and growing exports into third country markets.

Under IA-CEPA we have also committed to an active program of economic cooperation activities to help maximise the benefits of the agreement for businesses, employees and consumers in both our countries. Again, we are moving quickly in this space, with a new strategic grains partnership, which brings together Australian and Indonesian grains and food processing industries meeting here in Jakarta this afternoon. The grains partnership will help develop value-adding industries, using high-quality Australian grains to create new and exciting products here in Indonesia that will be sold into global food markets, thereby boosting exports for both of our nations.

This is the powerhouse in action. Not just saying we will but actually getting on and doing it, as I know the business leaders assembled here today will ensure occurs.

There are similar examples in the area of manufacturing. Take steel, for example. This is an input for industries such as shipbuilding, construction, automobile production and food canning. Australian company BlueScope is already a major investor in Indonesia, employing 500 Indonesians directly and a further 1000 indirectly, contributing to infrastructure projects like the new Terminal 3 at Soekarno-Hatta Airport. IA-CEPA will provide more certain access for the Australian inputs needed to grow the steel industry and successfully deliver more infrastructure projects in Indonesia.

These are just a few examples of the exciting, win-win future that lies ahead for our two countries once IA-CEPA is ratified and enters into force. There are many more wins that I could possibly mention today, with tariffs largely eliminated or dramatically reduced, delivering better and cheaper goods for our consumers, alongside much improved access across various important services sectors such as education and health. Indeed, to meet the challenge of goods that Australia would love to see more of from Indonesia. In the short term, more of your fabulous high-quality coffee, of course would always be welcome in Australia, and in the long term we look forward to seeing you realise the vision of electric car manufacturing and the opportunities that will provide for exports into Australia.

Before concluding though, I want to join Minister Lukita in paying credit to the many officials and negotiators on both sides who dedicated so many thousands of hours to get us to this point today. I acknowledge the vision and drive also of President Widodo and former Prime Minister Turnbull. The ongoing strengthening of the Indonesia-Australia relationship and the new opportunities created for young people in both of our countries will be a legacy that both President Widodo and former Prime Minister Turnbull can be proud of. I acknowledge your personal commitment, Vice President Kalla, and that of Prime Minister Morrison in Australia to seeing this agreement signed, sealed, delivered and consistently implemented for the benefit in years to come.

I'm also pleased that we can be joined today by former Trade Ministers Tom Lembong and Steve Ciobo. This is a notable occasion for both. For Tom, we wish him a happy birthday today – a signing specially convened for Tom's birthday. For Steve, who has announced his retirement from politics in recent days, we thank him for his service and of course for this agreement too. This agreement is something that they should both be proud of, for the benefits that will flow from this day.

The report of the Indonesia-Australia Business Partnership Group – 'Two Neighbours: Partners in Prosperity' – provided an invaluable framework for negotiators, helping them to target the most important opportunities in this agreement. It is good to see so many of those people who participated at each stage here today, to mark with us this occasion. I thank you all for your efforts in ensuring the highest-quality, most comprehensive agreement possible.

While we both now proceed as nations to do what is needed to ratify IA-CEPA to bring it into force, we will continue to work closely with the business communities in Indonesia and Australia to ensure we realise the maximum benefits created by this landmark agreement for future generations of Indonesians and Australians.

Thank you all again for your support. Let's sign – selamat tinggal!

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