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Timor-Leste expands visa access to lure foreign investors

Officials at seven different embassies will now be empowered to grant visas, decentralising the previously cumbersome process
  • The country’s interior ministry says the move is an ‘important step’ in making the movement of visitors more efficient

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UPDATED: 21 Jun 2024, 7:46 am

Timor-Leste will now issue entry visas at seven embassies in order to “simplify” the process and improve border control.

Migration attachés in China, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Portugal and Australia will now be able to issue visas for “work, business, temporary stays, establishment of residence, transit, tourism and airport stopovers,” the government says.

“This is an important step that aims to simplify and decentralise the process of granting visas, thus promoting greater efficiency in controlling the movement of people at the borders and foreigners in the national territory,” according to the Ministry of the Interior.

[See more: High-level meetings reaffirm elevated Chinese-Timorese ties]

The simplified visa procedure aims to boost economic development and increase tax revenue, while also helping to “strengthen international relations” and facilitate the “entry of foreign investors.”

Foreign investment is particularly important as Timor-Leste works to diversify its oil-dominated economy. Oil accounts for the overwhelming majority of GDP and total exports, and oil revenue accounts for more than 80 percent of Timor-Leste’s budget, far exceeding the IMF’s 25 percent threshold for resource dependence.

Those funds are also rapidly dwindling, with the US$16 billion petroleum fund expected to run out by early 2030. Foreign investment in areas such as agriculture could, according to the World Bank, “reshape the economic landscape, offering stability and sustainable growth” while infrastructure development would open up more opportunities to grow other sectors.

UPDATED: 21 Jun 2024, 7:46 am

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