Australia, Indonesia to sign free trade deal

Australia, Indonesia to sign free trade deal

Politics
The live cattle industry is one sector to benefit under a new free trade deal with Indonesia.

The live cattle industry is one sector to benefit under a new free trade deal with Indonesia.

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The long-awaited deal was due to be signed in Jakarta on Monday.

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Australia's unions are running a "predictable scare campaign" against the impending free-trade deal with Indonesia, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says.

The long-awaited deal between Australia and Indonesia due to be signed in Jakarta on Monday by Senator Birmingham and his Indonesian counterpart Enggartiasto Lukita will open markets for agriculture and education.

But unions say the deal will hurt Australian workers, open Indonesia workers coming to Australian to potential abuse by employers and undermine national sovereignty by allowing international rulings on investment disputes.

"We're seeing Australia's unions running a predictable scare campaign when the facts speak the opposite," Senator Birmingham told Nine Network.

"We've done trade deals and increased market access to countries right around the world in the last few years, we've actually managed to grow jobs by 1.2 million."

The deal will strengthen economic ties and increase trade flows between the two countries, as it opens up opportunities for businesses - the two countries are both in the world's top 20 economies but neither is in each other's top 10 trading partners.

The trade deal was meant to be signed last year, with negotiations concluding in August.

But the signing was delayed when Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the government was considering moving Australia's Israeli embassy to Jerusalem.

The free-trade deal is Indonesia's first major agreement of its type and will allow Australian-owned universities to operate in the country.

Senator Birmingham said Australian frozen meats, live cattle, feed grains, dairy, citrus and rolled steel would receive favourable treatment under the agreement.

But ACTU president Michele O'Neil has branded it a "dodgy deal" that favours unlimited temporary-visa holders, while Australian Manufacturing Workers Union national secretary Paul Bastian says there's "no substantive evidence" the deal will benefit Australian workers.

The trade deal won't come into effect until it's ratified by the federal parliament.

Australian Associated Press

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