Australia’s agreement with East Timor to settle a permanent maritime boundary in the Timor Sea appears to bring to an end a long-running and often bitter dispute, which has marred relations between the two countries. Indeed, with this deal, Australia has again bullied its tiny near neighbor into acquiescing to a deal that is less than what East Timor believed it was entitled to.

East Timor has agreed to the lesser deal because it has been facing major budget cuts to stave off medium-term economic collapse. Without a deal, the country could have been bankrupt before the end of the 2020s. Even under the agreement, revenues are unlikely to flow from the field until around that time.