Australia trade minister visits Jakarta and Bali

Jakarta (Antara News) - New Australian Trade Minister Simon Crean in the new Kevin Rudd Government arrived in Jakarta on Thursday for meetings with his Indonesian counterpart Mari Elka Pangestu and other Indonesian ministers, Australian Embassy media release has said.

It said that during the visit, Crean would pursue a range of trade issues, including a possible free trade agreement between the two countries and a possible ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand free trade agreement.

Crean would also meet with local members of the Australian business community before leaving for the 8-9 December Trade Minister`s Dialogue on Climate Change issues in Bali.

The primary focus of the Bali meeting of Trade Ministers would be climate change and related economic and trade issues. In particular, the use of trade policy tools in addressing climate change and sustainable development would be discussed.

"It is important that responding to climate change is not just seen as an environmental imperative, but also as an economic opportunity," Crean said.

While in Bali, Crean will also meet with a number of his trade counterparts to discuss trade issues of importance to Australia, including progress of the WTO Doha Round.

Trade between Australia and Indonesia has grown steadily in recent years, with current annual two-way trade worth about IDR 83.9 trillion, making Indonesia as Australia?s 13th largest trading partner.

Indonesia currently enjoys a merchandise trade surplus with Australia of IDR1.9 billion, with major exports to Australia including crude petroleum, non-monetary gold, paper and wood.

Indonesia`s major imports from Australia include wheat, sugar, crude petroleum, education services, aluminum, cotton and live animals.

Total Australian investment in Indonesia at the end of 2006 totaled Rp 25 trillion. More than 400 Australian companies are currently operating in Indonesia across a range of sectors, including mining, construction, finance, banking, food and beverage, and transport. (*)
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