LUSA 07/09/2024

Lusa - Business News - Timor-Leste: Joining ASEAN helps all Portuguese language countries - president

Luanda, July 8, 2024 (Lusa) - The president of Timor-Leste said in Luanda on Monday that by 2025, the country should become the 11th member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which will bring new opportunities for Portuguese-speaking countries.

José Ramos-Horta, who was speaking at a press conference after a meeting with his counterpart João Lourenço at the Presidential Palace, highlighted the potential for cooperation between the two countries and the economic dimension of the PALOP (Portuguese-speaking African countries), saying that joining ASEAN will be a great opportunity for the CPLP (Community of Portuguese Language Countries).

"With our membership of ASEAN, it is my conviction that Timor-Leste can be the great warehouse for products from PALOP or CPLP countries, for their redistribution in the area, like Singapore, which, in addition to being a major financial centre, is one of the largest transhipment centres in the world," said the Timorese head of state, pointing to this country and Dubai as a trade hub for Southeast Asia.

"This is possible, as long as our two governments encourage the private sector with support, with loans, with sustainable interest rates (...) so that we can move from annual, romantic declarations of Latin influence to something more practical with concrete results for our countries," he emphasised.

Ramos-Horta spoke of Angola's progress since the end of the conflict, emphasising that "once peace was established, Angola gave great examples of how to resolve conflicts, how to heal wounds, how to reconcile the great Angolan nation".

An example followed by Timor-Leste, he continued, which has normalised relations with neighbouring Indonesia and other countries in the international community, with entry into ASEAN in 2025 being the corollary of these "internal and diplomatic efforts".

The Timorese President thanked countries like Angola and others in the Portuguese-speaking community for helping Timor in the "ethical and diplomatic battle" for independence, and hoped to be present at the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Angola's independence.

The meeting with João Lourenço discussed the potential of bilateral cooperation between Angola and Timor-Leste, but also the economic potential of the PALOP countries and the CPLP, taking into account the fact that Timor-Leste, as a member of ASEAN, is part of a regional market of around 700 million consumers with a GDP of four billion dollars.

This group of countries "brings a great opportunity, at CPLP level, to move from declarations about the importance of the economic dimension to the realisation of some acts of cooperation," said Ramos-Horta.

ASEAN is a regional organisation comprising ten Southeast Asian countries, which promotes intergovernmental cooperation and facilitates economic, political, security, military, educational and socio-cultural integration between its members and other Asian countries.

Ramos-Horta also considered that Angola has not been sufficiently recognised for its post-war management, and said that Luanda is "unrecognisable" pointing to the "great architectural works that are a symbol of the new Angola".

She added that João Lourenço would be received "with all human warmth" in Timor-Leste, after the Angolan head of state confirmed that he had accepted his counterpart's invitation to visit the Asian country.