India and Indonesia sign strategic maritime MOU

MOU signed between India and Indonesia. Credit: Bharati

The Indian Coast Guard and the Indonesian Coast Guard have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) via video conference on 6 July. Director-general of the Indian Coast Guard, K Natarajan, and Vice Admiral Aan Kurnia, head of the Indonesian Coast Guard, have agreed to co-operate in an effort to reduce transnational maritime crimes, facilitate search and rescue, synchronise capacity and capability building activities, and allow for a stronger response to maritime pollution concerns.

This MOU builds on a growing maritime collaboration between the two countries and solidifies their control over the Bay of Bengal region, particularly in response to China’s Belt and Road initiative and the recent agreements to cement the China-Myanmar economic corridor. This is also reflected in India-Indonesia defence collaboration over the last two years as both countries have co-ordinated naval patrol exercises in the region. India has also invested in developing a deepsea port in Sabang, Indonesia. It is seen to be central to India’s Indo-Pacific plans.

The two countries have also previously signed an agreement to advance economic engagement between Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Aceh and North Sumatra province. The agreement is intended to promote cruise and ecotourism, introduce commercial flights between Indonesia and Port Blair, and facilitate trade through ro-ros between these regions.