Indonesia Australia free trade agreement likely to miss another deadline

December 12, 2017: Fairfax Media has reported that there is ‘growing doubt’ that the Indonesia Australia free trade agreement (Indonesia Australia Comprehensive Economic Agreement or IA CEPA) will be finalised by the end of the year, as intended. Australian and Indonesian trade ministers will meet again in Argentina this week, after failing to conclude negotiations last month in Jakarta.

Fairfax Media says, “Both sides are tight lipped about the roadblocks but market access and legislative constraints to Australia opening university campuses in Indonesia are understood to be among them.” Matthew Busch from The Lowy Institute writes that there are reportedly unresolved differences on goods, services and investment.

In February Prime Minister Turnbull reiterated Australia’s committed to finalising the FTA ‘by the end of this year.’ This commitment was reiterated by negotiators throughout the year. In August 2016 Trade Minister Ciobo said concluding the IA CEPA was his ‘most significant priority’.

While free trade negotiations between Australia and Indonesia continued throughout the year, Indonesia filed a complaint to the World Trade Organisation over the Australian government’s decision to impose dumping duties on A4 paper from Indonesia, and signalled its concern over Australia’s investigation into the alleged dumping of steel rods exported from Indonesia.