JAKARTA� Indonesia and Australia inked a long-awaited trade deal on Monday after months of diplomatic tension over Canberra's contentious plan to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
Indonesian trade minister Enggartiasto Lukita and his Australian counterpart Simon Birmingham wrapped up the multi-billion-dollar agreement in Jakarta, some nine years after negotiations first started.
The pact will include improved access for Australian cattle and sheep farmers to Indonesia's 260 million people, while Australian universities, health providers and miners will also benefit from easier entry to Southeast Asia's biggest economy.
Greater access to the Australian market is expected to spur Indonesia's automotive and textile industries, and boost exports of timber, electronics and medicinal goods.
Bilateral trade was worth US$11.7 billion in 2017, but Indonesia is only Australia's 13th-largest trading partner and the economic relationship has been viewed as underdone.
Both ministers touted the deal as indicative of deepening ties between the two countries, which have occasionally butted heads on foreign policy issues, including Australia's hardline policy on asylum seekers.
Birmingham said the deal marked a new chapter of cooperation between the two neighbours.
The signing of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement brings our two nations closer together than ever before, Birmingham told reporters.
Lukita said the signing had the potential to transform the economy of both countries.
Today is definitely the brightest moment on of the Indonesia-Australia relationship, he said.
The deal has been in negotiation since 2010 and was expected to be signed before the end of last year, but it stalled when Prime Minister Scott Morrison proposed the relocation of Australia's embassy to Jerusalem.
In December, Morrison formally recognised west Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, but said the contentious embassy shift from Tel Aviv will not occur until a peace settlement is achieved.
The trade deal also comes just ahead of national polls in which Indonesian President Joko Widodo is pushing his economic record in the battle for re-election.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK