During his first bilateral overseas visit on Monday, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese celebrated a developing partnership with close neighbor Indonesia, promising deeper cooperation on trade, security, and climate change.
Albanese rode bamboo bicycles through the presidential palace in Bogor with his host, President Joko Widodo, before they started their formal meetings.
The incoming Australian prime minister, together with Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Trade Minister Don Farrell, sent a high-profile corporate group to Southeast Asia’s largest economy, emphasizing the necessity of interacting with the region’s largest economy.
“Revitalizing our trade and investment partnership is a priority for my administration,” Albanese said. “Indonesia is on course to become one of the world’s five greatest economies.”
The day after he was sworn into office in May, Albanese traveled to Japan for a meeting of the Quad group of countries, which comprises the United States, India, and Japan. His trip to Indonesia is his first one-on-one meeting with a foreign leader.
He stated that Australia will endeavor to maximize the benefits of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) and would also provide technical assistance for the establishment of Nusantara, Indonesia’s planned green, high-tech capital.
Albanese reaffirmed a four-year A$470 million ($338.49 million) development commitment to Indonesia and the area, as well as a A$200 million climate and infrastructure collaboration with Indonesia and the establishment of a Southeast Asia office in Australia’s foreign affairs department.
“As we move to a net zero world together,” he added, “I want improved access to affordable, dependable, and secure sustainable energy right across our area, true to my government’s ambitious climate ambitions.”
As it navigates connections with a more aggressive China, Australia’s new Labor administration, which ended almost a decade of conservative control in a May 21 election, suggests a stronger emphasis on relations with Southeast Asia and climate change, a subject critical to its Pacific neighbors.
Albanese also promised enhanced defense and marine security and safety cooperation despite escalating Indo-Pacific tensions between China and the US, he told reporters.
A new trilateral security deal between Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom (AUKUS), which would allow Australia to buy nuclear-powered submarines, has alarmed numerous Southeast Asian countries.
On Sunday, Australia’s new Malaysian-born foreign minister met with Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi, who earlier stated that Indonesia did not receive the attention it needed under the previous government.
President Jokowi, as Indonesia’s leader is called, emphasized the importance of the neighbors’ bilateral pledges being strengthened.
Jokowi emphasized the strategic economic collaboration and IA-CEPA, which will allow more Indonesians to work in Australia, as well as the recent inauguration of a Monash University campus in greater Jakarta and the significance of food security and sustainability.
Albanese will also see Lim Jock Hoi, the secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), who is located in Jakarta, before traveling to Makassar in eastern Indonesia.