Indonesia’s Jokowi seeks to boost ties with Australia on EVs, security

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Indonesian President Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi, is on a three-day state visit to Australia, where he will meet with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and discuss ways to enhance bilateral cooperation on economic, climate and regional issues.

Jokowi arrived in Sydney on Sunday for the eighth Australia-Indonesia Annual Leaders’ Meeting, his first trip to the country since February 2020. He will also visit Canberra and Darwin before heading to Papua New Guinea for another bilateral meeting.

One of the main topics on the agenda is Jokowi’s vision to turn Indonesia into a global hub for electric vehicles (EVs), which he sees as a key part of his legacy as he nears the end of his second and final term in office.

Indonesia has the world’s largest nickel reserves, a crucial ingredient for EV batteries, but it lacks lithium, another key component that Australia has in abundance. Jokowi said in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald that Indonesia and Australia have a great potential for integration in the EV supply chain.

The two leaders are expected to announce new initiatives to boost collaboration on EV manufacturing and research, building on the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, a free trade pact that came into force in 2020.

The agreement aims to create a framework for the two countries to unlock the vast potential of their economic partnership, which has been underdeveloped despite their geographic proximity and complementarity.

Jokowi and Albanese will also discuss ways to deepen cooperation on climate change, education, health, and regional security issues, especially amid rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific region.

The visit comes as Australia faces criticism from some of its neighbors, including Indonesia, over its role in the formation of AUKUS, a new security pact with the United States and Britain that involves sharing nuclear submarine technology.

Indonesia has expressed concern that the pact could undermine regional stability and trust, and has called for more transparency and consultation from Australia. Jokowi said he hoped to have a “frank and constructive” dialogue with Albanese on AUKUS and other strategic matters.

The visit also coincides with the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Indonesia and Australia, which have been elevated to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership since 2018.

The partnership reflects the shared commitment of the two countries to work together as close neighbors and partners in the region, despite occasional differences and challenges.

Jokowi said he hoped his visit would strengthen the friendship and trust between Indonesia and Australia, and pave the way for more concrete actions and outcomes in the future.

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