Perth, Western Australia is tightening its belt and is now looking North, beyond the mining boom and beyond WA to our vast neighbour, Indonesia. The bilateral relationship between Indonesia and Australia has enjoyed a relatively positive period over 2016 and by most accounts, that trend will continue. Over the last few weeks numerous Indonesia-focused events infused the city with splashes of batik and the scent of clove.

From 11 to 15 November, Perth played host to the Australia Indonesia Business Week. A five-day program comprised three key events, the Indonesia Business Summit (11 Nov); Indonesia Trade Fair 12-13 November); and the Australia Indonesia Business Council Conference (13-15 Nov).

The Indonesia Business Summit – Towards a New Chapter of Indonesia and Australia Economic Partnership – was a single-day event with a multitude of sector-specific panels from Aquaculture to the Digital Economy. The event had a strong attendance and whilst identifiable outcomes may be hard to come by, the continuation and transparency of dialogue is indicative of a bright business relationship between Australia and Indonesia.

Indonesia Trade Fair saw the coming together of 50 businesses from throughout the archipelago present public displays at the Perth Exhibition and Convention Centre. It was a vibrant and fun two-day event, free to the public and exceptionally well organised and presented. It was an opportunity to expose West Australians to Indonesia beyond Bali.


Pak Ade Sarwono, Consul General of Perth speaking at the AIBC Conference, with Bruce Gosper, CEO of Austrade, to his right. Photo: Australia Indonesia Business Council

At the two-day AIBC Conference – Breaking Barriers and Building Bonds – in cooperation with their numerous sponsors the AIBC held constructive, open and engaging sessions centred around the IA CEPA (Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) and the  Turnbull-Jokowi era.

The conference team comprised members of the Australia Indonesia Business Council Youth Professionals and executive members of the Australia Indonesia Youth Association Western Australia Chapter. Chapter President Stewart Palmer, Chapter Vice President David Scholefield and Chapter Secretary Fiona Bettesworth (also AIBC YP) worked closely with the AIBC team to deliver a worthwhile and informative conference for over 270 delegates. This included the Honourable Paul Grigson Ambassador of Australia to the Republic of Indonesia and His Excellency Nadjib Riphat Kesoema Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia.

Australian Indonesia Business Council Youth Professionals and AIYA WA Chapter Executives. Photo: David Scholefield

Australian Indonesia Business Council Youth Professionals and AIYA WA Chapter Executives. Photo: David Scholefield

Over two days, a number of panel sessions were held to inform, deliberate and produce meaningful dialogue between business leaders and government officials. Key note addresses were delivered from the likes of His Excellency Dr Bambang Brodjonogoro, Chairman of BAPPENAS, the Honourable Colin Barnett MLA, Premier of Western Australia, with panels led by the Honourable Chris Bowen MP, Shadow Treasurer, Australia and the Honourable Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance, Australia.

The conference was held only days after President-Elect Trump claimed victory in the US election. An entire panel was dedicated to exploring how the change of leadership in the US would affect business in Australia and Indonesia, with the primary focus of the panel being the TPPA (Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement). Honourable Kim Beazley, former Ambassador of Australia to the United States said, “the TPP is dead.” Discussion was frank, thoughtful and practical at a time when many are disillusioned at the state of global affairs.

Whilst many of the panels dealt with changing political landscapes, others focused entirely on the IA CEPA – identified as a key piece of legislation for both nations. The panel, entitled IA-CEPA: How the Negotiations Are Progressing, offered an insight into how significant the free trade agreement between Indonesia and Australia is, with comments given on the speed at which the negotiation is progressing and the push – particularly from the Jokowi administration – to ratify this agreement sooner rather than later.

The Indonesia Business Week proved to be exciting and dynamic. Governments and businesses are preparing and adapting to global political changes, and the bilateral relationship between Indonesia and Australia, no stranger to tumultuous times, seems tinged with a rosy glow.

All panels are accessible for viewing through the Australia Indonesia Business Council Facebook page.