As Australia’s bilateral aid to China comes to a close in June this year, the two countries open up a new development cooperation partnership to deliver aid in Asia-Pacific.
Australian Foreign Minister Senator Bob Carr and Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng signed on Tuesday in Beijing an agreement for Australia and China to jointly address development issues of common interest in the region.
Under the Australia–China Development Cooperation Partnership Memorandum of Understanding, Asia-Pacific can expect countries to deliver aid together in areas such as health, particularly malaria and HIV and AIDS, as well as water resource management for developing countries.
Future initiatives will move forward on a case by case basis.
“This partnership commits Australia and China to work together to deliver foreign aid through sharing our experiences and more effectively targeting aid to poor communities across the region,” Carr said in a statement.
The inititative marks a milestone in the Australian Agency for International Development’s donor engagement strategy for 2012-2016, as the agency looks more toward involving emerging economies such as China in policy dialogue and program delivery in Asia-Pacific.
AusAID goes further to highlight in its 2012-2016 strategy the importance of building development cooperation between traditional donors and new economic powerhouses, in this case China.
While traditional donors like Australia can share knowledge and expertise on aid delivery, emerging economies can supplement funding and “offer their own experience in reducing poverty and creating domestic prosperity,” according to the plan.
With this outlook in mind, we can expect the Australian government to increasingly pitch efforts in the coming years with other emerging economies such as Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa.
The Australia-China partnership will formally start later this month with the launch of a joint pilot investigation into drug-resistant malaria in Papua New Guinea.
A few weeks later in June, Australia will phase out its existing programs in China in recognition of China’s new status as a global economic leader and donor.
These programs include the Australia Environmental Development Partnership, the China-Australia Health and HIV/AIDS Facility, volunteering initiatives and scholarships.
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