Elysse Morgan: Minister thank you for joining the program.
Andrew Robb: It’s a pleasure Elysse.
Elysse Morgan: You’re visiting Indonesia next week with a huge delegation of business people, enough to fill a jumbo jet; what tangibles are you hoping for out of this trip?
Andrew Robb: We have Austrade, my department, who put all these local business people together into the various streams of businesses, and it’s really a lot of almost ‘speed dating’ that goes on. But it’s been remarkable, all of the previous experiences that we’ve had in other countries, with so many of the business people saying they went thinking they’d just get a feel for the place and get one or two contacts, but they’ve come back with 21 or 22 contacts.
We’ve seen a lot of business grow out of that and I expect the same again. I’ve got a key note address in Yogyakarta to the Indonesian-Australian Business Council, I’m hosting significant investment round tables with high-net worth individuals and companies, and we’ve got a big stream of business contact with local business people.
Elysse Morgan: Is Indonesia as interested in a relationship with us as we are with them; after all they have strong and uninterrupted trade relationships with other countries, for food, fibres and services, and it competes with us to sell resources into China and Korea. Do they need us?
Andrew Robb: They do, for instance with the resources you mentioned; our services sector in the resources space, its biggest market – and that’s a $90 billion sector by the way, just the services in resources – its biggest market is already Indonesia, and there’s a lot of scope to have our services sector in Indonesia in the years ahead, providing the help and services that are necessary to get mines out of the ground and get energy projects out of the ground.
Certainly with infrastructure, there’s a very big need in Indonesia, and a lot of interest about Australian construction and service companies, again in that space, and tourism.
Elysse Morgan: So when can we expect the Australian government to finalise the economic partnership agreement with Indonesia; negotiations have been going on for many years now, should you be speeding this up?
Andrew Robb: I set a priority on North Asia, so I did the South Korean, the Japanese and the Chinese agreements. TPP was running through all that period and I’ve now got India; I’ve had six visits to India this year and we’re well advanced there. Indonesia is the next cab off the rank as far as re-engaging on an issue. But I felt we had to build a large measure of trust before we engaged again on that issue, and that’s what we’re doing with this delegation. There will be more delegations and more ministerial visits, and hopefully we can build the sort of relationship that such close geographical neighbours should have.
Elysse Morgan: Turning to the TPP now, how worried are you the new Canadian government looks like it will say ‘no deal’ to the TPP and bring the whole thing undone?
Andrew Robb: They’ll make their own choice, but I’ve got to say that it’s such a significant agreement; we’ve got South Korea already indicating that they’ll move as quickly as they’re allowed to by the TPP partners to join, we’ve got Indonesia indicating that they want to join and we’ve got the Philippines indicating they want to join.
Elysse Morgan: The Free Trade Agreement with China still isn’t finalised. The Australian Farmers’ Federation this week has been saying it’s putting almost half a billion dollars’ worth of tariff cuts this year out of reach. Will it be finalised by the end of the year?
Andrew Robb: I’m confident that it will be. The importance of finishing it before the end of the year, even if it’s a week before, is because we qualify in a calendar year – 2015 – for the first range of tariff cuts, and of course China would also get the tariff cuts from our point of view. But the other thing is that’s worth about $600 million to Australia over the next year.
If we do it this year, when we go into 2016 – so the first week of January – we get the second year of cuts, so we get a double-whammy, which will be a great start to the agreement and it will really turbo-charge deals and joint ventures that are being formed in anticipation.
Elysse Morgan: Minister thanks very much for your time.
Andrew Robb: It’s my pleasure.
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