Govt focuses on Indonesia trade deal despite trade deficit jump

3 August 2016

An FTA with Indonesia is on track to be completed within 18 months and it remains Trade Minister Steve Ciobo’s first priority, according to media reports today.

This announcement by Minister Ciobo comes as the latest trade deficit figures were released, finding that the widening of Australia’s trade deficit continues unabated, and showing that the Government's rhetoric that trade agreements are mainly about increased exports can not be taken at face value.

The major trade justice issues in the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Partnership Agreement are:

- Secrecy: Little information, except that goods, services and investment are on the agenda;

- IP and medicines: It is not clear whether Australia will pursue TPP-like proposals for stronger medicine monopolies;

- ISDS: Australia is likely to push for ISDS provisions similar to those in the TPP;

- Movement of temporary workers: Indonesia is likely to want expanded access for temporary workers in Australia.