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Australia to sign landmark free trade agreement with Indonesia

Staff Writer |
Australia and Indonesia are set to sign a free trade agreement, ending months of uncertainty around the deal.

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The Indonesian-Australian Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) will be signed by Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, who will fly to Jakarta with a business delegation on Sunday, and his Indonesian counterpart Enggartiasto Lukita on Monday.

"This is a good deal for Indonesia in terms of growing their economic opportunity and investment," Birmingham told reporters on Friday.

"This is a great opportunity for our education providers, health and financial services providers as well, to be able to have easier access into Indonesia, better regulatory conditions to do business."

Despite reports that the FTA signing could be pushed back until Indonesia's presidential election, the deal, which will see 99 percent of Australia's exports to Indonesia give either tax-free entry or preferential treatment, will go ahead.

In addition to Australia's agricultural and health sectors, the FTA is expected to deliver major benefits for the education industry, clearing the way for Australian universities to open campuses in Indonesia.

Innes Willox, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group (AIG) and a member of the delegation travelling with Birmingham, said the deal showed maturity in "a relationship that has had its ups and down."

"Our economic relationship until now has really been based around agriculture. But this free trade agreement gives us potential to broaden it and to make it much deeper into services, deeper into manufacturing," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Friday.

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