The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced that Timor-Leste has started the process of joining the international body, which the country´s Government sees as a springboard for joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
According to the the organization, based in Geneva, the Working Group for the Accession of Timor-Leste, created in late 2016 by the WTO, held its first meeting on 02 October.
At the meeting, WTO members “supported Timor-Leste’s candidacy” to “become a member and welcomed the work done so far by the Dili authorities to facilitate a quick accession process,” the organization said in a statement.
The Timorese delegation stressed “the historic importance of the meeting and said that accession to the WTO will be essential to accelerate economic growth and improve living conditions” in the country, the statement adds.
At the meeting, held by videoconference, Timorese Minister for the Coordination of Economic Affairs, Joaquim Amaral, said the country “has assumed the priority of WTO accession, as it will (…) accelerate its growth and economic diversity. It also represents a springboard for Timor-Leste’s accession to ASEAN”,
The minister added that Timor “is committed to respecting the principles, objectives and rules of the WTO, as a least developed country, and to implementing the structural, legislative and political reforms necessary to fulfill its future commitments to the WTO”.
The WTO member countries asked the delegation of Timor-Leste to provide additional information, namely on support for agriculture, and to present its commitments on access to the market for goods and services.
The next meeting of the Working Group is scheduled for the first quarter of 2021.
The WTO accession processes usually last for several years due to the complexity of the issues and because the body works by consensus of its members, and a single country can block the accession process.