Australia in the Asian century: Identifying opportunities for Indonesia-Australia relations

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On 8 May 2013, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade organised public consultations  “Australia in the Asian century” in Adelaide. Indonesia becomes one of the focused countries along with Korea, Japan, India and China. Risti Permani, GoLive Indonesia team member, attended the event.

Mark Pierce, Assistant Secretary South and Central Asia Branch, leads the team of eight from Canberra visiting capital cities across Australia in May 2013 to get feedback on Australia’s country strategies. The strategies will outline a vision of where each relationship should be in 2025 and how we intend to get there. They will be forward-looking documents taking in the views of groups with important stakes or insights in each relationship.

The Prime Minister released the Australian Government’s Australia in the Asian Century White Paper on 28 October 2012. The White Paper provides a roadmap to guide Australia to become a more prosperous and resilient nation, fully part of the region and open to the world.

Mark Pierce viewed that the White Paper should be seen as a challenge, not only for the Australian government, but also industries, and other community members. It is about shared neighborhood, shared future.

What success for Australia in 2025 will involve:

  1. Benefiting from the properity of a productive and resilient economy;
  2. An Australian community that is more Asia-literate, with a deeper and broader understanding of Asian cultures and languages;
  3. A business sector comprising highly innovative, competitive Australian firms with collaborative relationships in the region;
  4. Sustainable security in the region;
  5. Deeper and broader relationships between Australians and people and communities across Asia.

Some key iniatives include regional comprehensive economic partnership and significant investor Asia.

Sharon Traucki from the Indonesia branch presented the importance of Indonesia for Australia. Indonesia’s expanding middle class, its projection to be the tenth largest economy by 2025, its proved capacity as a regional leader (organising ASEAN meetings in 2012 and APEC meetings 2013) suggest its enormous potentials. Therefore, continuing and strengthening relationships between Indonesia and Australia would provide some further opportunities. Government to government relationships continue to expand but there is a greater scope for stronger trade relationships and community relationships.

The DFAT has published “Towards 2025: Australia’s Indonesia Strategy in the Asian century“.

The Indonesia-specific group discussion was attended by a number of Australians and Indonesians representing universities, private sector, students and other community members. We were also honoured to have Mr Gary R. M. Jusuf, Consul General of Consulate General of the Republic of Indonesia in Sydney.

One topic that was focused by the group was the importance of Australia’s investment in teaching Indonesian language to school-aged students to raise awareness of the country. The group viewed that it is important to better link between Indonesian and Australian students through student exchange programs, between Indonesian and Australian teachers, industry representatives and professional staff at universities to complement existing networks between Australian and Indonesian researchers.

The members of the group also share similar views regarding the importance of improving people-to-people relationships. GoLive Indonesia is proud to be part of this mission. We gratefully received funding from the Australia-Indonesia Institute at DFAT  to run regular academic workshops to promote discussions on various development issues in Indonesia, from food security, English language to education. The use of English and social media in addition to face-to-face interactions at our regular academic workshops is aimed at improving Australia’s understanding of Indonesia and vice versa, providing an alternative view to mainstream media to learn more about Indonesia.

Although important, targeting school-aged students to learn Indonesian language should be considered to be a long-term investment. The Australian government should also develop short-term and medium-term approaches to reach its goals by 2025. Some “real actions on the ground” are needed to provide mutual benefits for both Indonesia and Australia.

The IndoBeef project, implemented by ACIAR, might be one of the formats that the Australian government can opt to assist Indonesia achieve its national goal, that is being self-sufficient in beef.  The $20 million project was announced during March 2012 a joint ministerial and senior business delegation’s visit led by Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson and Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig to Indonesia. The visit was to broaden the trade and investment relationship with Indonesia. According to DFAT‘s website, this project will build on the experience gained from previous ACIAR projects in Indonesia to improve the livelihoods of at least 75,000 smallholder farmers in the four Indonesian provinces of Southern Sumatra, East Java and West and East Nusa Tenggara.

Mutual benefits should be the keyword in developing Australia’s country strategies.

*This report is written by Risti Permani and subject to her personal view.

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1 Comment

Filed under Australia, Economic development, Economic Integration, Indonesia, Social media, Trade

One response to “Australia in the Asian century: Identifying opportunities for Indonesia-Australia relations

  1. Excellent! Well done, now a step closer to achieving bilateral cooperation successes.

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