(Bloomberg) — Longer business visas and millions of dollars in green investment aimed at bolstering economic ties capped the first visit to Australia by Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo in three years.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and the Indonesian leader known as Jokowi discussed boosting cooperation on critical minerals, green manufacturing and security partnerships during their meeting in Sydney on Tuesday. At a joint briefing that followed, Albanese unveiled five-year business visas for Indonesians traveling to Australia, up from the current three years.
The Australian leader also announced a A$50 million ($33 million) fund to spur climate investment in Southeast Asia’s largest economy. Australia and Indonesia should build “more substantive and strategic economic cooperation through the joint production of EV batteries,” Jokowi said at the briefing, without elaborating.
The three-day visit marks the Indonesian leader’s first trip to neighboring Australia since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, and comes at a time when the two resource-rich countries are trying to navigate increasingly challenging geopolitical landscapes. The leaders highlighted the strength of their security relationship and vowed to push for a defense cooperation agreement, according to a statement.
“Indonesia is a country of vital importance to Australia: its prosperity, security and stability makes the Indo-Pacific region more prosperous, more secure and more stable,” Albanese said. Jokowi said he had invited the Australian leader to visit Jakarta in September.
Indonesia has been vocal in its concerns over Australia’s plans to purchase a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines under the Aukus security agreement with the US and the UK. As Canberra shifts its defense ties closer to Washington, neighboring Indonesia aspires to remain neutral amid increasing competition between the US and China.
At the same time, both nations are seeking to boost their economies through the extraction of critical minerals such as lithium and nickel that are vital for high-end manufacturing and the progress of green economy.
Indonesia, home to a quarter of the world’s nickel reserves, aims to secure supply of lithium from Australia as it pushes the development of EV battery production. The two nations signed a comprehensive trade agreement in 2019.
Ahead of the leaders’ meeting, Foreign Minister Penny Wong said there would be a “great focus on the economy and economic relationship” of the two countries.
“Obviously Indonesia is an increasing economic power and will be over the next decade. We want to make sure we’re partners in that,” Wong told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Other key items
- Indonesia’s chamber of commerce and industry signed a memorandum of understanding with Western Australia to cooperate on critical minerals through 2025, according to a statement by the Southeast Asian nation
- Export Finance Australia, state-owned Listrik Negara plan $200-million financing facility to support Indonesia’s energy transition
—With assistance from Norman Harsono.