Australia to Give ASEAN A$775M Development Aid This Year
Jakarta. Australia on Thursday unveiled its plans to provide A$775 million (US$530 million) in development assistance to Southeast Asia, including Timor-Leste, as it seeks to bolster ties with ASEAN.
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong made the announcement during a ministerial-level meeting with her ASEAN counterparts.
"The [Australian] government has invested an additional $470 million in development assistance for Southeast Asia over the four years. We will contribute $775 million to Southeast Asia and Timor Leste this year," Wong told the forum.
Australia is aiming to increase its official development assistance to A$1.24 billion in 2023-24 as part of its strategy to deepen its engagement with Southeast Asia. The Australian government data shows that it has set aside an estimated A$326.1 million in official development assistance to Indonesia for the 2023-24 period.
Indonesia received about A$323.8 million worth of Australian development aid in 2021-22. This was higher than what the Australian government’s initial budget estimates of A$299 million. According to the budget estimate, the 2021-22 development assistance mostly went to the governance sector (32 percent). Followed by economic infrastructure and services (16 percent).
Stronger Economic Cooperation
According to Penny, stronger ties with Southeast Asia have become a priority for its government, particularly from an economic and security standpoint. Australia-ASEAN two-way trade amounted to $127 billion in 2021. Penny said there remained huge room for growth in the ASEAN-Australia trade.
“We believe there is much more opportunity to be captured and to grow between us. To that end, we will soon release the Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040, which will set out a practical pathway to strengthen Australia’s economic engagement with Southeast Asia,” Wong said.
The Australian Trade Ministry’s official website reported that its two-way trade with ASEAN in 2021 was greater than what Australia traded with Japan and the US. Australia, along with the 10 ASEAN member states, are also the signatories to the world’s largest trade deal Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.