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Timor-Leste hopes to join ASEAN under Indonesia presidency next year

Fledgling nation – heavily dependent on oil and gas revenues – also keen to boost trade ties with its larger neighbour beyond current US$250 million per annum.

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Fledgling nation – heavily dependent on oil and gas revenues – also keen to boost trade ties with its larger neighbour beyond current US$250 million per annum.

ARTICLE BY

PUBLISHED

READING TIME

Less than 1 minute Minutes

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:41 am

Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta is hoping to boost trade ties with Indonesia and seal a decades-long bid by his nation to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) next year.

Ramos-Horta met his counterpart Joko Widodo on his first state visit to neighbouring Indonesia since he was elected in April for a second stint as president.

He previously served as president of Timor-Leste between 2007 and 2012.

“Timor-Leste as part of Southeast Asia has fulfilled many of the requirements necessary for a functioning economy and democracy so … will be a productive member of ASEAN,” he said, noting that he hoped his fledgling country could join the group when Indonesia takes over the presidency next year.

Timor Leste, which applied for ASEAN membership in 2011, currently holds observer status.

Speaking at the presidential palace in Bogor, south of Jakarta, the Indonesian president said his country had invested US$818 million in Timor-Leste, mainly in energy, banking and communication businesses.

“We’ve agreed to increase trade between both countries,” said Widodo, who is widely known as Jokowi.

Official data shows trade between the countries was worth around US$250 million last year. Heavily dependent on revenue from oil and gas, Timor-Leste has grappled with diversifying its economy and reducing high rates of poverty among its population of 1.3 million.

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and it only gained full independence in 2002 after a long and bloody struggle to end an often brutal occupation.

Ramos-Horta, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his peaceful efforts to end the conflict, said he welcomed deepening trade ties with Jakarta and Indonesia’s commitment to Timor-Leste joining the 10-member ASEAN regional grouping.

 

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 4:41 am

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