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Indonesia embraces reform; Iran and Myanmar are welcomed back

On the positive side of the ledger, President Jokowi has embarked on reforms aimed at deregulation, domestic industry revitalisation, eased trade restrictions, improved logistics and attracting foreign investment. This has led to a significant improvement in the 2017 World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings as Indonesia climbed from 106th in the world to 91st. But recent political tensions could erode reforms around foreign investment.

Myanmar’s political reforms and shift to democracy resulted in the abolition of US economic sanctions. This should pave the way for financiers and businesses to reengage with Myanmar without fear of reprimand from US authorities if they also have interests in the world’s largest economy.

2016 also marked a turning point for Iran’s economic relationship with the international community, as implementation of the nuclear deal saw sanctions against Iran eased. This opened the path for Iran back into international capital markets, access to billions of dollars’ worth of frozen assets and exports of oil into global markets for the first time since 2012. However, serious challenges remain, including with respect to banking transactions.

Australia has sought to rebuild its commercial relationship with Iran through a visit by Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Ciobo and the reopening of its trade office.