NADI, FIJI (4 May 2019) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Government of Indonesia, and the Government of Timor-Leste signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) today to support cross-border trade and cooperation between Timor-Leste and Nusa Tenggara Timur province in Indonesia.

The MOU was signed by ADB President Mr. Takehiko Nakao, Indonesia Minister of Finance Ms. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, and Timor-Leste Minister (Acting) of Finance Ms. Sara Lobo Brites. Under the agreement, Indonesia and Timor-Leste will take actions to reduce barriers to cross-border land and air transportation and harmonize procedures at border crossing points. It also seeks to reduce animal health barriers to livestock trade and bolster tourism promotion in Nusa Tenggara Timur and Timor-Leste through joint marketing and itineraries. ADB will provide $1 million in grant resources to support implementation of the MOU.

“Regional cooperation and integration is critical for sustained and inclusive growth in Asia and the Pacific,” said Mr. Nakao. “This MOU represents a small but important step in our support for cross-border cooperation between Indonesia and Timor-Leste. Supporting livelihoods in lagging border areas is critical to tackling inequality and ensuring our region’s growing prosperity is shared by all.”

The MOU builds on a Scoping Study on Enhanced Cross-Border Cooperation and Integration between Indonesia and Timor-Leste, which ADB conducted at the request of the Indonesian and Timor-Leste governments. The study identified a variety of challenges and opportunities for cross-border cooperation and identified tourism and livestock as key sectors for short-term benefits through cooperation.

The Indonesian government is committed to reducing regional disparities in Indonesia, and Nusa Tenggara Timur is among the country’s lesser developed regions. This is being done through improvements in connectivity, accessibility, and capacity as well as cross-border economic collaboration. Ms. Indrawati signed the  MOU as a complement to their existing national strategies and welcomed it as the next step in their relationship with ADB for support to border areas, and an additional collaboration with friends and colleagues in Timor-Leste.

Ms. Brites said, “Timor-Leste has made significant strides since independence but if this is to continue, we must integrate more closely into ASEAN and the world economy as well as diversify our economy. Reducing barriers to trade and cooperation with our closest neighbors is an essential step in achieving this goal. We welcome the MOU with ADB and Indonesia as the start of an enduring and mutually beneficial partnership for growth.”

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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