Australia-Indonesia Annual Leaders’ Meeting | Prime Minister of Australia
ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Well, it’s indeed an absolute pleasure to welcome my friend, President Widodo, here to Australia. It is good to return the incredibly warm hospitality, Mr President, that I received during my first visit to Indonesia just two weeks after my election as Prime Minister. We didn’t give you a ride on a bicycle today but we did have a very nice and pleasant ride on this beautiful harbour here in Sydney.
I was absolutely determined at that time to make sure that my first bilateral visit as Prime Minister was to Indonesia. And today, our relationship shifts up another gear. Our countries continue to choose to draw closer together as economic partners, as security partners, and as partners in the global transition to net zero.
Australia sees Indonesia’s success as pivotal to our region’s success. Indonesia’s prosperity, security and stability makes the Indo-Pacific region more prosperous, more secure and more stable. As Australians feel the pressure from global economic challenges, it’s important that we’re investing in trading relationships to grow our economy, support good jobs and strengthen our supply chains. And of course, there are few more important trading partners to us than Indonesia.
Tomorrow marks three years since our bilateral Free Trade Agreement, the Indonesia Australia Closer Economic Partnership Agreement, entered into force. That agreement came just as the pandemic took hold and global trade slowed. Today, our two-way trade has fully recovered. Over the past year it’s become stronger than ever, up 37 per cent over the last two years. Last year, our two-way goods and services trade reached a record $23.3 billion. But there’s so much more to do. Which is why last year, I committed to revitalising our trade and investment relationship by bringing institutional investors together and engaging senior Australian business leaders. And I’m pleased that a number of commercial deals across the health, mining and digital sectors have since been made.
To support our expanding business and commercial links, Indonesians will gain access to an extended business visa from three to five years and we will prioritise Indonesian e-passport holders to access our smart gates. We will put arrangements in place also for Indonesians to access the frequent travellers visa. This offers a ten-year visa validity making enormous difference in removing bureaucratic impediments to our closer relationship.
We’ve also made real progress on visa processing times. The median time for Indonesian visitor visa applications has fallen from 60 days in June 2022 to just seven days in May 2023, and the median processing time for a business visa is now just three days. Last year in Jakarta, I announced the $200 million Indonesia-Australia Climate and Infrastructure Partnerships Program. The President and I see real opportunity for both of our countries in the climate and energy transition. And today, I announce that the first tranche of that funding, $50 million, will be used to invest in startups and small to medium enterprises focused on mutual benefit from Indonesia’s energy transition and clean energy technology sectors.
There is a lot that Australia can offer Indonesia and the region in the energy transition, including the global move towards electric vehicles. We are rich in all of the components and the expertise needed for renewable energy. The President and I welcomed growing cooperation in this area, including through the MoU that was signed between the WA Government and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We are advancing cooperation and collaboration on this vital matter, which provides an incredible opportunity for us going forward.
President Widodo and I also discussed education links and agreed on a range of new initiatives to support professional mobility, up-skill employees and build Australian-Indonesian literacy. Building on the success of Monash University’s Campus in Indonesia, I’m delighted to announce that Western Sydney University, Deakin University and Central Queensland University will soon join Monash to bring Australia’s world-class tertiary education to Indonesian students and professionals.
Finally, we talked about regional peace and security. Our bilateral security cooperation is, of course, underpinned by the Lombok Treaty. The President and I welcomed our Defence Ministers’ agreement in February of this year to elevate our defence cooperation to a treaty level agreement. And as I said at my keynote speech at the Shang-ri La Dialogue in Singapore just last month, all countries in the region, large and small, have a collective responsibility to help keep the region peaceful. And Indonesia’s contribution to regional security under the President’s leadership has been central.
President Widodo, your leadership of the G20 last year was exemplary. This year you are again playing a critical role as the Chair of ASEAN and as ever, Australia stands ready to support Indonesia’s priorities as Chair. And on that note, I certainly look forward to welcoming you back to Australia next March, when I will host the ASEAN Australia Special Summit. President Widodo, we’ve cycled together in your country, we’ve travelled on beautiful Sydney Harbour together, we’ve met now on four occasions and spoken many, many times, and I’m looking forward to embarking on this, our next journey together in the lead up to the ASEAN Summit, which you will host in Jakarta. Then we meet again at the G20 later this year. Then we meet again in March of next year at the ASEAN Summit, that I will be proud to host. This is all with the objective of a better future for our nations and importantly, one for our people. And I hope that you have very much enjoyed what we have seen, a productive occasion and an excellent meeting between our ministers as well today. I look forward to our discussions over a one-on-one dinner tonight, just us, and I am very much looking forward to that and continuing to work together for a better future.
HIS EXCELLENCY JOKO WIDODO, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA: Thank you, Prime Minister Albanese for the warm welcome. I’m very glad to be able to visit Australia again.
Since last year’s Annual Leaders’ Meeting in Bogor there have been many positive developments. And I thank you for your commitments. There are some future priorities that we need to do together.
Among others first, Indonesia and Australia must build a more substantive and strategic economic cooperation through the joint production of EV batteries.
The second on trade, since Indonesia-Australia CEPA entered into force the trade volume has increased by 90 per cent. This will continue to be optimised through cooperation in mutual recognition agreement on fisheries product, quarantine and especially for fruits and increasing the capacities of SMEs.
Third on carbon emission reduction, we will focus on invitation of cooperation on the development of carbon capture and storage as well as green energy oriented smelters in Indonesia.
The fourth on the construction of the Nusantara capital city, Indonesia encourages Australia’s private sector and National Capital Authority of Australia to work together with the Nusantara Capital City Authority on regional and global issues.
I conveyed Indonesia’s position in ASEAN is clear. We want the Indo-Pacific to become a stable and peaceful region that focuses on collaboration and concrete cooperation. I appreciate Australia’s support towards Indonesia’s ASEAN chairmanship, and I invite Australia to enhance partnership in the South-Pacific through bilateral cooperation and to participate in the ASEAN Indo-Pacific Forum. And lastly, I look forward to Prime Minister Albanese’s visit to Jakarta this September. Thank you.