President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will visit Australia in an effort to speed up economic cooperation after a recent row on a military training collaboration.
Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said the President’s state visit aimed to push the ongoing negotiations on the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) that Jakarta expects to conclude this year.
“The state visit to Australia will give emphasis on the completion of IA-CEPA negotiations and step up cooperation in other fields such as cyber security, mining and counterterrorism,” Pramono told reporters at The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
The President will be in Australia on Feb. 25 to 26 for a reciprocal visit to meet with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who visited Jakarta on Nov. 12, 2015. Jokowi’s visit was once scheduled for Nov. 5, 2016 but it was delayed following a violent rally in front of the State Palace in Jakarta on Nov. 4.
The visit to Australia could be clouded by the recent suspension of military cooperation between the Indonesian Military (TNI) and its Australian counterpart and it remains unclear whether the President’s visit will also touch on the resumption of defense cooperation between the two neighbors.
Jakarta has partially suspended military cooperation with Canberra following a brouhaha over allegedly offensive teaching materials at a military training facility last October.
TNI chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo on Feb. 8 accepted an apology offered by visiting Australian Army chief Lt. Gen. Angus Campbell over the incident but Gatot insisted that the suspension remain on the table despite the acceptance of the apology.
Gatot was among the high ranking officials who attended a limited Cabinet meeting held by Jokowi at the State Palace on Tuesday to prepare the presidential overseas visit to Australia.
Tuesday’s attendance of Gatot at the meeting raised questions over the possibility of talks on the reactivation of military cooperation between Indonesia and Australia, and whether it would lead to Jokowi inserting it into his agenda when meeting with Turnbull. However, neither Pramono nor Deputy Foreign Minister AM Fachir made any confirmation about it.
TNI spokesperson Brig. Gen. Wuryanto could not be reached for comments on Tuesday evening on the suspension of the military cooperation between Jakarta and Canberra.
Fachir said the upcoming visit of Jokowi to Australia aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between the two neighbors in order to achieve a state of affairs in which the two enjoyed mutual cooperation.
“We will apply a people-to-people approach and apart from that we will also step up efforts to increase investment and IA-CEPA [negotiations],” Fachir said.
In addition to increasing people-to-people contact between the two countries, Fachir said that during his two-day visit Jokowi would attend several business meetings in Australia.
Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) chairman Thomas Lembong said if Indonesia managed to push Australia to finish the IA-CEPA negotiations then it would be the first successful bilateral cooperation on economy and trade done by Indonesia in the past 10 years.
“The negotiations on IA-CEPA are running well without any barriers. We expect to see it finished this year. Economic dialogue between Indonesia and Australia are heavy on the economy,” Lembong said at the State Palace after attending the limited Cabinet meeting.
Lembong said that during the meeting he reported to Jokowi on the progress of the ongoing investment that both Indonesia and Australia had, especially in the gold mining sector.
President will be in Australia from Feb. 25 to 26 for reciprocal visit
Visit to Australia could be clouded by recent suspension of military cooperation.
Source: The Jakarta Post