Australian businesses have been and will continue to invest in Indonesia.
Steven Ciobo, the Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment since February 2016, visited Indonesia to negotiate an Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA). His visit took place from October 31 to November 4, 2016 and marked the fifth round of negotiations. Ciobo said the IA-CEPA will help Australian exporters supply the growing needs of Indonesian consumers with Australian goods and services. He added that these needs are growing because Indonesia’s middle class of more than 45 million is forecast to grow to 135 million by 2030. Former Australian Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb stressed that Indonesia is a neighbour Australia can’t afford to ignore. He said two years after the Asian financial crisis in 1997 Indonesia’s gross domestic product was just $75 billion. Its gross domestic product has since grown to reach $1.2 trillion at the time of his statement. However, there are already many Australian companies investing in Indonesia. Australia already exports about $1.3 billion worth of wheat to Indonesia. Careers Australia launched the Australia Indonesia Professional Training Centre in collaboration with local Indonesian food and beverage firm Es Teler 77. The training centre’s aim is to grow Indonesia’s skills in the hospitality industry. Newcrest International agreed to undertake mineral exploration in conjunction with Antam, an Indonesian mining and metals company. Health supplements maker Blackmores partnered with Kalbe Farma, one of the largest healthcare companies in Southeast Asia. Aside from investing in businesses, Australia is also investing in Indonesian education for a brighter future for Indonesian citizens everywhere. In 2016 Australia and Indonesia celebrated 10 years of bringing schools to some of the most rural parts of Indonesia. Australian Chargé D’affaires, Dr Justin Lee said creating hundreds of thousands of new opportunities for children to attend school was a major milestone in the Australia-Indonesia partnership. He said the next step is to ensure the teachers and principals in those schools have access to quality training and curriculum support. From 2006 to 2016 the Ministry of Education and Culture, in partnership with the Australian Government has built 2,725 junior secondary schools, providing 10,175 classrooms and creating 366,300 new student places. During this time national gross enrollment rate of junior secondary school students has increased from 88 per cent in 2006 to 100 per cent in 2015. According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website Indonesia’s trade with Australia was worth AUD 14.8 billion from 2014 to 2015. Text by Sarah S.