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Timor-Leste strengthens ties with long-time ally Brunei

A new memorandum on labour mobility is only the first step in expanding and deepening cooperation between the two nations, who both share islands with a far larger neighbour.

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A new memorandum on labour mobility is only the first step in expanding and deepening cooperation between the two nations, who both share islands with a far larger neighbour.

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UPDATED: 21 Dec 2023, 11:06 pm

The president from Timor-Leste has voiced support for cooperation with Brunei in forest conservation and the oil and gas sector as he wraps up a four-day state visit to the sultanate, according to reports. 

President José Ramos-Horta cited Brunei as one of the best examples in the world for forest conservation. The country, considered a centre of excellence in tropical forestry, has maintained nearly 100 percent of its virgin forests through a strong commitment to conservation and proper management.

Brunei is also the third largest oil producer in Southeast Asia – averaging 180,000 barrels per day – and the ninth largest liquid natural gas producer in the world. Timor-Leste, Horta explained, hopes to draw on its experience in managing the wealth from these exports.

[See more: Timor-Leste approves the strengthening of bilateral relations with China] 

Brunei and Timor-Leste have maintained friendly bilateral relations since the latter achieved independence in 2002. Both are small nations in Southeast Asia that share an island with a far larger neighbour and both rely on fossil fuels as the main driver of their economies.

Horta hoped his trip would expand and deepen cooperation between the two countries in a number of areas, including education, agriculture, health and tourism. He offered investment in hotels as one example of a win-win, allowing Brunei to benefit as Timor-Leste grows its tourism industry.

Labour mobility is another area, bolstered by the memorandum of understanding signed during the visit. The deal will see Timorese workers learning on the job in Brunei, becoming more productive and expanding their skillsets – while Brunei will benefit from a supply of multilingual workers.

 

UPDATED: 21 Dec 2023, 11:06 pm

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