Australia and Indonesia have signed a landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to embark on enhanced cooperation on water resource management and agricultural planning.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce and Indonesian Minister of National Development Planning, Professor Bambang Brodjonegoro, said the agreement reflected a growing understanding of the critical role that sound water management would play in the future of both nations.
Both Ministers signed the MoU in Perth last week.
“If Australia and Indonesia are to reach their full potential for productive economic and agricultural growth, it is vital that we work together to ensure regional prosperity,” Mr Joyce said.
“Improving our shared understanding of water resources and managing them sustainably and with long-term vision will be essential to that prosperity.”
Mr Joyce said the agreement recognises that despite vast differences in geography and population, Indonesia and Australia share many of the same challenges, including limited supplies of water.
Minister Bambang said the MoU included shared commitments to information and data exchange; science and technology exchanges; education, training and knowledge sharing activities; and joint studies on policies, programs and regulations.
Better water management
“Through this MoU we will be cooperating to better manage catchment systems, develop efficient agricultural irrigation and assist with the provision of clean, safe and reliable water supplies for communities, industry and the environment,” Minister Bambang said.
“It’s a key part of the fundamental commitment the Australian and Indonesian governments are making to individual famers, to rural communities and to the security of our nations through better water management.”
Australia’s two-way agricultural trade with Indonesia has grew to nearly $4 billion last financial year.
Both countries are hoping to boost trade through the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA) which is now being negotiated.
Indonesia has already agreed to lower the tariff on Australian sugar exports, and Australia will eliminate the tariff on herbicides and pesticides from Indonesia.
The MoU with Indonesia is the fourth such agreement by Australia for water cooperation with a major trading partner. Australia has similar agreements with India, the US and China.