Friday, 24 May 2019 11:07 GMT
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Indonesia, Australia set to sign trade agreement




(MENAFN - Asia Times) Indonesia and Australia are set to sign a long-awaited trade agreement on Monday, after months of diplomatic tension over Canberra's controversial decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

The deal will include improved access for Australian cattle and sheep farmers to Indonesia's market of 260 million people, while Australian universities, health providers and miners will enjoy easier entry to Southeast Asia's largest economy.

Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita and his Australian counterpart Simon Birmingham are scheduled to sign the multi-billion-dollar agreement in Jakarta at a morning ceremony.

Greater access to the Australian market is expected to boost Indonesia's automotive and textile industries and increase exports of timber, electronics and medicinal goods.

Bilateral trade was worth US$11.7 billion in 2017.

The deal has been in negotiations since 2010 and was expected to be signed before the end of last year but it stalled when Prime Minister Scott Morrison proposed moving Australia's embassy to Jerusalem.

Morrison first suggested the shift in October, ahead of a critical by-election in a Sydney suburb with a large Jewish population. Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, was angered by the proposal.

Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. Most countries have refrained from moving their embassies there, fearing that it would undermine peace talks on the city's final status – until US President Donald Trump unilaterally moved the American embassy early last year.

– with reporting by Agence France-Presse

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Indonesia, Australia set to sign trade agreement

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