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Human affairs are not serious, but they have to be taken seriously. Iris Murdoch (1919 b.) Anglo-Irish author:

Cameron in Indonesia to finalise Airbus deal

INDONESIA: British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived Wednesday in Indonesia, where he will finalise a $2.5 billion deal between Garuda and Airbus as the European plane maker looks to tap the growing economy.

The trip is the latest leg of Cameron’s trade mission around Asia, along with a posse of businessmen, as he looks to offset sluggish growth at home and in the troubled European economy.

“The $2.5 billion deal for 11 A330-300 planes will be signed later today at the presidential palace,” Garuda president Emirsyah Satar told AFP.

Indonesia’s presidential spokesman Teuku Faizasyah told AFP the deal with the airline, which is majority owned by the state, would be the “highlight” of Cameron’s visit.

The agreement is the second inside a year between the two after Garuda ordered 25 medium-range A320 Airbus planes for a catalogue price of $2.18 billion.

The latest deal will be a boost to Garuda as it embarks on an expansion drive less than two years after the EU lifted a ban on the airline operating in European airspace over safety fears.

It will also be more than welcome for Airbus, which has only secured firm orders for 90 planes in the first quarter of 2012, compared with more than 400 for US rival Boeing.

Cameron will also likely push military sales, after Britain banned defence exports to Indonesia in 1999 following accusations that British-made Hawk fighters were used in counter-insurgency attacks in East Timor, then an Indonesian province.

“Britain makes some of the best defence equipment in the world and it is reasonable that it is available to Indonesia, under the very same criteria that we apply to all our partners around the world,” Cameron told the Kompas daily before arriving, in comments reported in the Indonesian language.

He visits Indonesia as Southeast Asia’s biggest and fastest growing economy continues to make huge strides since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, emerging as the region’s most lucrative market for international plane makers.

An expanding middle class, strong growth -- the economy expected to expand 6.5 percent this year -- political stability and the need to link the resource-rich islands are fuelling a travel boom.

In February, Indonesian carrier Lion Air formally signed a $22.4 billion deal for 230 Boeing aircraft, the single largest contract in commercial aviation history.

It also announced it was buying 27 smaller ATR 72-600 turboprop aircraft from the European manufacturer, in a $610 million deal.

The prime minister’s tour -- which has also taken in Japan and will be followed Thursday with a trip to Malaysia and Myanmar -- also comes amid sluggish growth in Britain and a need to tout for new business in fast-growing Asia to kickstart the economy.

Around 140,000 jobs are generated in Britain by Airbus, a European consortium.

“There is a huge potential for the UK and Indonesia to run business together. However, we’ve just come to realise that (potential),” Kompas quoted Cameron saying in its interview.

Britain’s trade with Indonesia grew from $2.63 billion in 2010 to $2.89 billion last year. British investment in Indonesia, hit by Europe’s economic slowdown, fell dramatically from $1.89 billion in 2010 to just $419 million last year.

AFP

 

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