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Liberal leadership chaos could jeopardise landmark Australia-Indonesia free trade deal

Liberal leadership chaos could jeopardise landmark Australia-Indonesia free trade deal Email Liberal leadership chaos could jeopardise ...

Liberal leadership chaos could jeopardise landmark Australia-Indonesia free trade deal

Email Liberal leadership chaos could jeopardise landmark Australia-Indonesia free trade deal

Updated August 24, 2018 11:28:15

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull shakes hands with Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Photo: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was due to meet Indonesian President Joko Widodo next week. (AAP: Lauren Farrow) Related Story: Trade deal with Indonesia 'very close' despite setbacks Related Story: Indonesia and Australia push to seal 'win, win' trad e deal as deadline looms Related Story: November deadline set for Indonesia-Australia trade deal Map: Indonesia

The leadership turmoil in Canberra looks certain to delay a landmark free trade deal between Australia and Indonesia.

Key points:

  • Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was due to travel to Indonesia next week
  • Officials were planning for the leaders to announce the nations had reached a trade deal
  • The trip will be cancelled if Mr Turnbull is replaced and it's unclear when the deal would then be finalised

The ABC has been told the two nations are on the brink of signing an agreement, after years of negotiations.

But in a clear display of how the leadership contest is rippling through Australian foreign policy and Government decision making, the final timetable for agreement and signatures is now deeply uncertain.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was due to travel to Indonesia next week as part of a trip through South-East Asia and the Pacific.

Officials felt they could resolve lingering disagreements on the agreement by then, and were planning for Mr Turnbull and Indonesian leader Joko Widodo to announce during the visit that the two nations had struck a deal.

The two leaders would not have signed the actual document, but declared that agreement had been reached, offering them a chance to laud a new era in the relationship.

But the leadership uncertainty in Australia has thrown those plans into chaos, frustrating those who have been working on the deal.

If Mr Turnbull is replaced today, the trip will be cancelled.

If that happens it is not clear when the deal will be finalised or signed by whomever becomes Prime Minister.

Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo smiles at his Indonesian counterpart Enggartiasto Lukita. Photo: Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo met with his counterpart Enggartiasto Lukita in Jakarta last September. (Twitter: Steven Ciobo)

Mr Turnbull has previously declared that a "high quality" free trade agreement could transform the strategic relationship between Australia and Indonesia and boost economic ties.

But the Government has been forced to narrow the scope and ambition of the deal because of strong protectionist sentiments in Indonesia.

Both countries have previously promised an agreement was imminent, but they've already missed a deadline to finalise it by the end of last year.

Officials have been keen to stress this delay won't kill the agreement, and they remain confident it will be announced â€" and then signed â€" before too long.

Topics: foreign-affairs, government-and-politics, trade, international-aid-and-trade, business-economics-and-finance, indonesia, asia, australia

First posted August 24, 2018 11:01:47

Contact Stephen Dziedzic

Source: Google News Indonesia | Netizen 24 Indonesia

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