President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has said that the partnership between ASEAN and Australia, including in the trade field, is mutually beneficial.
“ASEAN-Australia partnership should be able to become a model of economic cooperation which is mutually beneficial, a model of partnership that brings goodness to the world,” President Jokowi said in his speech during a plenary session of the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit held at the Sydney International Convention Center (ICC), here, Sunday.
The ASEAN-Australia economic cooperation also has strategic values, he added.
The free trade agreements among the 10 ASEAN member countries, Australia and New Zealand have become the most advanced agreement for ASEAN.
“We have recorded that ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement has an average goods liberalization rate at 93.5 percent,” he said.
Therefore, ASEAN-Australia must become a locomotive for free trade system which is open and fair in the region, and the system should be strengthened in wider regions.
President Jokowi has urged that negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) should be completed this year.
The RCEP is a commitment to mutually beneficial multilateral trade system. “Therefore, we must strengthen the commitment to finish the RCEP negotiations in 2018,” Jokowi added.
The RCEP could become the world`s largest trade pact, because the RCEP represents nearly half of the world`s population, 31.6 percent of the global GDP, and 28.5 percent of the global trade.
“In future, ASEAN-Australia must continue to become an anchor for a free trade system which is open and fair for the prosperity and welfare of our people in the region,” the President noted.
Themed “Enhancing Regional Security and Prosperity”, the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit held here, on March 16-19, 2018, discussed issues related to regional security, economic relations as well as counter-terrorism measures so as to further tighten the relationship between Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
During the stay in Australia, President Jokowi was flanked by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto, Minister/State Secretary Pratikno, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno LP Marsudi, Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita and Chairman of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) Thomas Lembong.
ASEAN groups Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.