MTCI highlights the opportunities and challenges of developing a blue economy in TL

MTCI highlights the opportunities and challenges of developing a blue economy in TL

DILI, 02 March 2023 (TATOLI)- Deputy Minister of Tourism Commerce and Industry (MTCI), Domingos Lopes Antunes highlighted the opportunities and challenges of the blue economy in Timor-Leste that still require a lot of effort and support from all entities.

As a small island developing country (SIDS), Timor-Leste is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of Covid-19. This was further exacerbated by natural disasters and other structural challenges that put pressure on Timor-Leste’s economy.

“Nonetheless, recent projections have given a positive signal of economic recovery because a lot of investment from the public sector comes from petroleum funds,” Deputy Minister of MTCI,  Domingos in a seminar themed “ENTREPRENEURSHIP AS A DRIVER FOR BLUE ECONOMY IN TIMOR-LESTE” at City8, Manleuana, this thursday.

Timor-Leste has great potential for the fishing and marine industries due to its 72,000 square kilometer Exclusive Economic Zone. The latest data for 2015 show that the gross value added of fish and other fishery products is only $7 million and about 90% of fisheries are still artisanal.

Given the extent of the exclusive economic zone, there is great potential for exploration and industrialization. In addition, because Timor-Leste is located in the Coral Triangle, it has some of the most biodiversity in the world which will serve as a tourist destination, thus coastal and marine tourism) will provide a niche market for tourism.

Trade and Industry Tourism (MTCI) also initiates various initiatives such as concessional loans and business innovation challenges that are tempted to build and drive productive sector value chains including expanding private sector development for blue economy opportunities.

Nonetheless, given the small size of the country’s domestic market, MTCI is actively involved in regional economic integration such as the WTO, ASEAN, and Economic Partnership Agreements with the European Union (EPA).

Specifically, on the EPA, this will open up the EU market for Timor-Leste. Leste on a preference basis which means that products exported from Timor-Leste to the EU will be more competitive against others, To further highlight that.

“The EU is the world’s largest importer of fish products. Several Pacific countries that have agreed to the EPA have already taken advantage of the EU market. Pacific Ocean-based fisheries and tourism provide $33 billion to the national economies of countries and the Pacific region,” he said.

Additionally, the EU is the leading destination for Pacific-prepared and preserved fish exports where 77 percent of Pacific-prepared and preserved fish exports are sold to the EU market.

The case of PNG (Papua New Guinea) is a good reference where after approving the EPA, the EU has exponentially increased the quantity of its fish production and exports to the EU market. In 2021, PNG’s total exports of fish products to the EU are equivalent to $210 million.

However, for Timor-Leste, there is still much work to be done, and it requires the contribution of every entity, from the private sector, development partners, communities, and government, to grow and foster marine-related industries and other productive sectors.

Needs to be considered, scaled up, aligned, and defined with respect to blue economy development in Timor-Leste, including policy reforms and synergies, development of necessary standards, quality, metrology and testing facilities and infrastructure, building partnerships and integration into regional blocs, and developing powerful special skills.



Journalist: José Belarmino de Sá

Editor: Nelia B.


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