Indonesia trade deal signing further delayed by Indonesian parliament

19 November 2018: The Indonesian Trade Minister has confirmed that they will not sign the FTA with Australia while there is uncertainty about Australia’s policy on moving their embassy to Jerusalem.

As usual, the full text is still secret until after signing, but The Australian has also reported that Indonesian Opposition leaders are now questioning reported provisions that enable 67% foreign ownership of hospitals, universities and training centres, telecommunications com­panies and mines, and up to 95% ownership of power plants. The deal also includes foreign investor rights to sue governments (ISDS). Opposition leaders have asked the Indonesia Trade Minister to give a full report to parliament before signing.

Both reports say that, if these issues feature in the election campaign, the signing of the deal could be delayed until after the April 2019 Indonesian elections. The signed deal would then still take several months to complete parliamentary processes in both countries. The Australian federal election must be held in May at the latest. If there is a change of government, this would be a test of the ALP pledge not to ratify deals containing ISDS and other clauses contrary to ALP policy.

In the meantime, Australia and Hong Kong trade ministers have announced the conclusion of negotiations on the Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement, but the text will remain secret for at least two months until it is legally scrubbed and signed.