DILI, 13 october 2023 (TATOLI) – Following the successful 6th meeting of the Working Party on the Accession of Timor-Leste to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Vice Prime Minister and WTO Chief Negotiator Francisco Kalbuady Lay expresses hope that Timor-Leste will become the 165th member of the organization in 2024.
“We are very happy with the result of the meeting. Hopefully, Timor-Leste will join WTO as a full member, in iebruary, next year,” Kalbuady made the comments after the meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, on thursday.
On behalf of the Government of Timor-Leste, Kalbuady extended his deepest appreciation to the working group and other relevant parties who have been working tirelessly for Timor-Leste’s accession to the organization.
At the fifth meeting of the Working Party on the Accession of Timor-Leste on 20 april, WTO members welcomed the strong and sustained efforts by the Timorese authorities to conclude WTO accession by the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) to be held in february 2024.
President of the Republic, Jose Ramos-Horta, and Director-General of WTO, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala addressed the meeting, highlighting the importance of swiftly concluding the accession for Timor-Leste and the multilateral trading system as a whole.
President Horta in his remarks at the meeting said that Timor-Leste is “fully committed as a least-developed country to abide by the principal objectives and rules of the World Trade Organization, and to implement domestic and structural legislative and policy reforms.”
Horta said joining WTO is crucial to unleashing the potential of Timor-Leste’s economy in several sectors: “Trade is an engine for development and Timor-Leste has a huge potential yet to be explored. As a full member, we will be able to diversify our economy, become part of the value chain of global economies, and bring about more cross-border business opportunities.”
DG Okonjo-Iweala welcomed “the strong commitment of Timor-Leste to this process” and the political will demonstrated by the Timorese authorities “to use trade and the multilateral trading system as tools for delivering development and prosperity for its people.”
Earlier this month, DG Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and President Horta met again, in Switzerland to discuss the next steps needed to realize Timor-Leste’s ambition to become a member of the WTO at the 13th Ministerial Conference, which will be hosted by the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi in late february 2024.
President Ramos-Horta and the Director-General committed to work towards accomplishing this important objective for both Timor-Leste and the WTO, building on their previous discussions.
With the good outcome of the 6th meeting of the Working Group, Timor-Leste hopes that the formal approval of its membership of the organization will take place at the 13th Ministerial Conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in February 2024.
Journalist: José Belarmino De Sá
Editor: Filomeno Martins