The new Australian government has signalled that it will prioritise deepening ties with the country’s northern neighbour Indonesia.
New Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers, in an interview with Sky News Afternoon Agenda on May 31, signalled the importance of Australia’s relationship with Indonesia, noting that Indonesian Treasurer Sri Mulyani was his first international call.
Chalmers said that Australia’s relationship with Indonesia had ‘absolutely’ been perennially overlooked and noted for the new Labor administration; the relationship would be a key to the Albanese government’s international economic goals.
“We need to work harder at it. Anthony wants to, Penny Wong wants to, and I want to work closely with them as well,” Chalmers said, referring to the bilateral relationship with the Indonesian government.
“There’s a big international economic agenda. I hope to get to the G20 meetings in Bali in July so that we can make our contribution to making sure the G20 works effectively in the economic sphere as well as the issues beyond that.”
Currently, Indonesia is the president of the G20—or the Group of 20—which is an international forum designed to enhance global economic cooperation among the world’s major economies.
At present, the forum members include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union. These nations account for more than 80 percent of the world’s GDP, 75 percent of global trade and 60 percent of the earth’s population.
The decision to focus on deepening ties with Indonesia was highlighted by Labor during the election, with the Labor party declaring they would establish an Australia-Indonesia Climate Resilience and Infrastructure Partnership as a key part of Labor’s deepening engagement strategy with Southeast Asia.
The Labor party planned to fund the Partnership with an initial $200 million grant from the Overseas Developmental Assistance program, but they would discuss with Jakarta the scope for expanding this Partnership through the provision of loan financing in addition to ODA grants.
Additionally, Labor said they would work to expand economic ties with Indonesia via a comprehensive partnership agreement between the two nations.
The comments from Chalmers come as Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese prepares to travel to Indonesia for high-level talks on Sunday.
The deepening ties with Australia is also a good move for Indonesia as increasing shortages in global food supplies have the potential to create significant food insecurity in Indonesia.
International trade and market expert, Matt Dalgliesh from Thomas Elder Markets, has previously told The Epoch Times that Indonesia could face issues in the coming months over the global food crisis.
“Countries that are on our doorstep, like Indonesia, that have a huge population and are struggling for self-sufficiency in terms of their [own] self-sufficiency, they could have problems,” Dalgleish told The Epoch Times.
Dalgleish said due to the lower income levels in those countries, much of the population already spend a higher proportion of income on food-related matters, and as grain supplies drop, prices could rise as countries compete for supply.
“When people become food insecure, that’s a very quick way to get civil disobedience and instability within a country,” he said.