Mon, 02 Jul 2007
Australia and Indonesia are considering a feasibility study into a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) as a way to boost trade between the two countries.

Australian Trade Minister Warren Truss warned any deal would be at least two years off.

The recommendation was made by an Australia-Indonesia Trade and Investment Framework (TIF) expert group to the 7th annual bilateral meeting of trade ministers in Jakarta on Monday (25/6/07), Australian Associated Press reported.

Truss described the trade relationship between the two neighbors as "robust and growing strongly". "(But) there is potential for more to be done to help grow the trade and to ensure that both our countries benefit," he said.

He expected a feasibility study, if approved, would take about a year to complete. "That will be undertaken presumably jointly by governments and by experts, to help us assess what the potential benefits are from a FTA, what issues would need to be resolved and then whether or not we could actually progress to that formal negotiation stage.

“I think that normally a feasibility study of that nature takes up to a year or so and then negotiations perhaps another year or so after that.”

Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Pangestu said Australia is one of the country's most important markets. Two-way trade between Australia and Indonesia is worth about A$10.4 billion annually. But Pangestu said the relationship is still "underdeveloped".



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