Indonesians To Get Work Here Under Free Trade Agreement

Indonesians to get work here under free trade agreement

Mark Forbes, Bali
The Age
November 13, 2007

INDONESIAN nurses and construction and hospitality workers should be able to work in Australia under a proposed free trade agreement, according to Indonesian Trade Minister Marie Pangestu.

She hoped the agreement would be in place by 2010, she told an Indonesia Australia Business Council conference yesterday.

Her Australian counterpart, Warren Truss, had raised the shortage of skilled labour in Australia during early negotiations, Dr Pangestu said. He had indicated visa and immigration requirements could be relaxed.

Under the proposed deal, both nations needed to cut tariffs and other trade barriers further, she said. Dr Pangestu was optimistic about negotiations for Indonesia's second bilateral free trade deal, stating that Australia had already finalised deals with its other major trading partners.

Australia would also benefit from a freer trade in the education, health and financial sectors, she said.

“There is also an increasing need for skilled labour in Australia, and Australia is looking how it can increase skilled migrants in a range of sectors such as nurses, construction and hospitality workers,” she said.

“This is very important in a free trade agreement with Indonesia. Indonesians would need to be certified for this work so we would also need educational expertise.”

Indonesia would hope for increased investment and expanded fruit exports to Australia, she said. Australian aid should assist Indonesia's agricultural sector to meet customs standards.

An agreement should be a win for both countries and with feasibility study to be completed by May final negotiations should be finalised within two years, Dr Pangestu said.

Australian businessmen at the conference welcomed the comments.

But representatives of the mining industry were highly critical of proposed new mining laws. The laws were undermining certainty and confidence of investors, several participants said.