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Timor-Leste pledges to open doors in ASEAN for lusophone countries

Set to join Southeast Asian regional powerhouse in 2025, Timor-Leste is eager to see its Portuguese-speaking allies benefit as well
  • The promise was made by Timorese President José Ramos-Horta during a visit to Luanda for talks with his Angolan counterpart João Lourenço

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UPDATED: 10 Jul 2024, 7:24 am

Timorese President José Ramos-Horta said in a visit to Luanda that Timor-Leste becoming the 11th member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2025 will open new opportunities for all Portuguese-speaking countries.

In meetings with his Angolan counterpart on Monday, both he and President João Lourenço reaffirmed their interest in expanding bilateral cooperation in areas such as oil and agriculture. The two countries also signed two memorandums of understanding in the areas of diplomatic cooperation and professional exchange, as well as a visa-free agreement for diplomatic and service passports.

Both parties also wish to move forward on commercial and economic cooperation, with Timor-Leste’s future place as a member of ASEAN being of particular interest.

[See more: Mozambique signs multiple cooperation agreements with Timor-Leste]

Ramos-Horta thanked Angola for setting “great examples of how to resolve conflicts, how to heal wounds” – one Timor-Leste followed in normalising relations with its former occupier Indonesia.

ASEAN, a political and economic union of 10 Southeast Asian countries formed in 1967, is based in Jakarta and counts Indonesia among its founding members, along with the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei joined in 1984, followed by Vietnam (1995), Laos and Myanmar (1997), and Cambodia (1999). Together, ASEAN represents a regional market of around 700 million people with a GDP of US$4 billion.

Timor-Leste, explained Ramos-Horta, could act as a bridge between this market and Portuguese-speaking countries. His conviction is that Timor-Leste can be “the great warehouse for products” from these communities for redistribution in the ASEAN market, citing Singapore as an example of the approach.

UPDATED: 10 Jul 2024, 7:24 am

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