Timor-Leste's WTO accession package approved

Fri. 12 of January of 2024, 12:32h

On January 11th, 2024, the members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) responsible for negotiating Timor-Leste's accession agreed, by consensus, ad referendum, to the terms of the country's accession to the WTO, paving the way for Timor-Leste to join the organisation during the WTO's 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13), which will take place from February 26th to 29th, 2024, in Abu Dhabi.

The Minister of Transport and Communications, Miguel Marques Gonçalves Manetelu, who led Timor-Leste's delegation to Geneva for the 7th and last meeting of the Accession Working Group, representing Timor-Leste's Chief Negotiator, the Vice Prime Minister, Francisco Kalbuadi Lay, expressed his gratitude to WTO members for recognising the country’s efforts and readiness to close this chapter of WTO accession. 5G6A0432

“Timor-Leste's well-deserved accession to the WTO marks an important step in our history of trade integration by establishing a framework for future trade agreements and paving the way for future challenges that lie ahead”, emphasised the Minister.

Minister Miguel Manetelu highlighted Timor-Leste's commitment to becoming a more active participant in international trade, able to defend its values and interests on the road to sustainable development. “Accession to the WTO remains first and foremost a vehicle to accelerate the important reforms needed to promote economic growth, transform the country into a growing, healthy and well-educated middle-class nation, and move towards the goal of good governance, stability and peace”, he added.

This work will continue in the post-accession period, in line with Timor Leste's parallel membership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Minister said. 5G6A0472

WTO Vice Director-General Johanna Hill expressed the organisation's congratulations to Timor-Leste on the successful conclusion of the negotiations. She said the conclusion of this accession “represents a significant occasion for the WTO”, which “opens the door to new members for the first time since 2016”.

Johanna Hill paid tribute to the President of the Republic, José Ramos-Horta, for his leadership in the accession process and noted that, despite all the challenges, Timor-Leste has become an example of how to use the accession process to reform and modernise the country's economy, accelerate growth and tackle the restrictions of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs), including the various commitments made, notably in market access.

The Chairman of the Timor-Leste Working Group, Portuguese Ambassador Rui Macieira, recognised the commitment of the Timorese negotiators under the political leadership of President Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão and stressed that "this is the fastest accession of all the LDCs that have joined the WTO so far, as Timor-Leste has used it as a stepping stone to joining ASEAN, building a solid foundation for the economic development of this young nation". acc_11jan24_lg

WTO members expressed their eagerness to welcome Timor-Leste as a new WTO member at MC13. They emphasised that the conclusion of the negotiations represents a milestone that will positively impact the country's economic development and integration into the multilateral trading system. WTO members also highlighted that Timor-Leste has set a high standard in the swift and effective way it has conducted the accession process and encouraged the country to maintain momentum in the post-accession phase.

After submitting its application to the WTO in November 2016, the Working Group was established in December 2016, culminating in the approval of the WTO accession package.