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Australia to Ease Visa Rules to Boost Indonesian Ties

Business travel for Indonesians to Australia will be made easier in a bid to boost the economic partnership between the two countries following a deal struck between Anthony Albanese and President Joko Widodo.

The pair met for talks in Sydney on Tuesday during the Indonesian president’s three-day visit to Australia.

Visa changes, climate initiative funding and boosting education partnerships between the two nations were agreed on during the discussions at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo.

Mr. Albanese announced Indonesians will be able to access extended business visas for Australia, increasing from three to five years, while Indonesian ePassport holders will be prioritised.

Indonesians will also be able to access a frequent traveller visa.

“This offers a 10-year visa validity making an enormous difference and removing bureaucratic impediments to our closer relationship,” Mr. Albanese said.

“Today, our relationship shifts up another gear, our countries continue to choose to draw closer together.”

A $50 million initiative will also be set up to finance climate change startups and initiatives.

It will flow from a $200 million climate and infrastructure program unveiled last year during Mr. Albanese’s visit to Jakarta.

The prime minister said Indonesia would play a critical role in boosting the success of the Indo-Pacific region.

“Indonesia’s prosperity, security and stability make the Indo-Pacific region more prosperous, more secure and more stable,” he said.

“There are few more important trading partners to us than Indonesia.”

The two leaders also discussed education partnerships with major Australian universities, including Western Sydney University, Deakin University and Central Queensland University setting up facilities in Indonesia.

A program to encourage more Australian students to learn about Indonesian language and culture was also unveiled.

The scheme would capitalise on the rising number of Indonesian students studying at Australian universities, which has rebounded following downturns caused by COVID-19.

Mr. Widodo said there were many positive developments in bilateral relations.

He said the two countries needed to work together on emissions reduction and developing batteries for electric vehicles.

“We want the Indo-Pacific to become a stable and peaceful region that focuses on collaboration and concrete cooperation,” he said.

Mr. Widodo also urged Australian private sector companies to work on the construction of Indonesia’s new capital city.

Mr. Albanese announced a new package to support the development of the city, with Australia’s National Capital Authority providing cooperation with Indonesia.

Earlier, Mr. Widodo held a meeting with business leaders before he met with Governor-General David Hurley at Admiralty House.

West Australian Premier Roger Cook will hold talks with Mr. Widodo in Sydney on Wednesday, with the pair likely to discuss Indonesia’s transition towards renewable energy and its aspirations for an electric vehicle manufacturing industry.

Indonesia has been looking at developing electric vehicle infrastructure across the country.

The visit comes as the federal government is expected to finalise its Southeast Asia economic strategy to 2040 in the coming weeks.

The two leaders will next meet in Indonesia later this year for the East Asia Summit and ASEAN-Australia Summit.

Mr. Widodo will return to Australia in March next year for an ASEAN special summit.

Even though it will be after the Indonesian presidential elections in February, he does not step down upon completion of his second five-year term until October.

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