Morrison’s first trip will be to Indonesia

(Australian Associated Press)


Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s first overseas visit will be to Jakarta to stress the importance of Australia’s relationship with Indonesia.

The new leader will leave later this week and is expected to discuss the conclusion of free trade talks with President Joko Widodo.

“By making my first overseas visit as prime minister to Indonesia, I want to make a clear statement about the importance of our relationship,” Mr Morrison said in a statement on Tuesday.

“And the commitment of my government to deepening our economic and security co-operation.”

Mr Morrison said Australia and Indonesia share geography, deep historical ties, a “vibrant contemporary relationship” and a vision of a peaceful and prosperous region.

“Our close collaboration across economic, security and strategic domains makes both countries stronger, safer and more prosperous,” he said.

“I look forward to working with Indonesia’s president to lay the foundation for the next stage of our bilateral partnership.”

Australia and Indonesia are both ranked in the world’s top 20 economies by gross domestic product.

An Indonesian government spokesman said the two leaders would discuss their “bilateral relationship, including economic co-operation, and other regional issues”.

Mr Morrison’s predecessor Malcolm Turnbull had been scheduled to travel to Jakarta in September. He and Mr Widodo had set a target of completing the free trade negotiations last year.

Despite being close geographically, Australia was only the 14th-biggest buyer of Indonesian exports in 2017, while Indonesia was the 10th-largest export destination for Australia, according to the International Monetary Fund data.

Boosting exports, including by securing market access for Indonesian products through free trade deals, is a priority for the Widodo government.

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