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Ciobo in ambitious Indonesian trade talks

AAP logoAAP 31/07/2016 Colin Brinsden
Trade Minister Steven Ciobo © Bloomberg Trade Minister Steven Ciobo

Trade Minister Steven Ciobo has set an ambitious target to secure a comprehensive trade deal with neighbouring Indonesia by next year.

Mr Ciobo and his Indonesian counterpart Tom Lembong met in March to set the groundwork for an agreement to be finalised in 12 to 18 months, which he says emphasises the goodwill on both sides.

As one of his first jobs on retaining the trade portfolio after the July 2 federal election, Mr Ciobo is heading off to Indonesia on Monday to resume talks with Mr Lembong.

"We both agree that there is a lot of benefit that could flow to both countries from a comprehensive trade deal," Mr Ciobo told AAP.

"Whilst there are some areas where we compete, the fact is there is a lot of areas where we can work together to our mutual benefit."

A comprehensive economic partnership would aim to reduce barriers for both countries, promoting opportunities in agribusiness, services and investment, in what Mr Ciobo described as an "underweight relationship".

One key area Mr Ciobo wants to secure in the deal is in education.

The Indonesian government is focused on raising the standards of its people and Australia can help though tertiary education and training services.

"Australia has a very strong platform for delivering in this area and is consistent with an economy that is 75 per cent services based," Mr Ciobo said.

It would drive jobs and economic growth for Australia, and build capacity in Indonesia.

"It's the win-win outcomes we are looking for," he said.

The coalition's first term of government featured the finalisation of three free-trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea under Mr Ciobo's predecessor Andrew Robb.

Mr Ciobo said in a transitioning economy, the government wants to drive economic growth through a continued emphasis on securing more trade agreements.

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