New Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrisons first overseas visit in his new role, to neighbour Indonesia, has been a success.
Mr Morrison met Indonesian President Joko Widodo in Jakarta on Friday 31 August to conclude negotiations on a free trade deal. The foundations for the trade deal had already been laid by former PM Malcolm Turnbull, former foreign minister Julie Bishop, and former trade minister Steve Ciobo.
Mr Turnbull enjoyed a “special relationship” with Mr Widodo, following a low-point in relations under the Abbott Government. Mr Ciobo had monthly meetings with the Indonesian trade minister up until the week of the Australian government change.
Before leaving for Indonesia, Mr Morrison said Australia needed to do “some more heavy lifting” in the economic relationship between the two countries. Although they are close neighbours, and among the world's 20 largest economies, neither are among each other's top ten trading partners.
The new economic partnership will reduce or abolish 99% of tariffs on trade between the two nations, and will allow Australian investors up to 67% ownership of Indonesian universities, previously forbidden to overseas investors.
The two leaders also agreed to elevate the diplomatic relationship by way of a “comprehensive strategic partnership”, putting Jakarta on the same level as Beijing in Australia's power ranking of relationships.
Australia has been seeking closer ties with India and Vietnam, and some Pacific countries, as concerns rise about China's influence and investment in this region. Mr Morrison did not want to comment on these concerns, telling a business breakfast that Australia would deepen its strategic partnership with China.