Indonesia, Australia may start feasibility study of eastablishing FTA

UPDATED: 20:41, June 25, 2007

Australian Trade Minister Warren Truss said here Monday Australia and Indonesia are considering a feasibility study of signing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two neighbouring countries.

At the 7th Indonesian and Australian Trade Ministerial Meeting on Monday, the Australia-Indonesia Trade and Investment Framework

(TIF) expert group recommended the establishment of bilateral FTA between the two countries.

"We welcome the report from the expert's group which recommended Australia and Indonesia should undertake a feasibility study for a bilateral free trade agreement," Truss said at a press conference after the meeting. "And it will be evaluated by our leaders."

Truss described the two countries'trade as "robust" and "growing strongly," but there are still a lot of potentials if compared to other Asian countries.

He predicted that the study, jointly conducted by government and private sector experts, would take about a year to complete, and would help both countries find out problems needed to be resolved in the way to FTA and potential benefits to the two sides.

The agreement finally reached must be a win-win agreement, Truss said.

Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu agreed that the two-way trade was still "underdeveloped" with 2.77 billion US dollars of exportation from Indonesia to Australia in 2006.

She also expressed concerns that Australia's travel warning against Indonesia because of "very high threat of a terrorist attack" is damaging Indonesia's restoring tourism industry and potential trade, hoping the Australian government would review the travel warning quarterly.

Truss said the Australians are becoming more confident about Indonesia's safety, and many of them are eager to go back to the resort island of Bali.

Indonesian and Australian Trade Ministerial Meeting began on August 2000 with the purpose to tighten the trade relationship between the two countries.

Australia is a main buyer and investor for Indonesia, mainly importing gold, papers, cable, rubber, wood products, furniture, plastic materials from Indonesia.

Source: Xinhua

People's Daily Online ---