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Timor-Leste: A Peaceful and Promising Nation

In a recent episode of "In Conversation," Timor-Leste's President discusses various aspects of his country's development and international relations. This blog post provides a summary of the key points covered in the interview.

Peaceful Coexistence and Diplomacy:

Timor-Leste, a small nation, has been accused by some commentators of playing the "China card" by cozying up to Beijing. The President argues that smaller countries like Timor-Leste naturally seek alternatives when they feel ignored or mistreated by Western powers. However, he emphasizes that Timor-Leste maintains good relationships not only with China but also with other countries like Australia, the United States, Indonesia, and Singapore. The President asserts that Timor-Leste's economic engagement with China does not extend to defense and strategy, as they already have excellent security and defense cooperation with neighboring countries.

Development Achievements:

The President takes pride in the peaceful nature of Timor-Leste, with zero political or ethnic violence and a tolerant society that welcomes people from various backgrounds. He also highlights the country's progress in developing a fully-fledged democracy with a free media and political activities. Although the President acknowledges that Timor-Leste's economy is still improving and poverty remains a concern, he outlines the government's priorities for the next five years, including eliminating child malnutrition and poverty, ensuring food security, investing in agriculture, and improving the education system.

Education and Literacy:

Regarding education, the President mentions the significant progress made in the last two decades, including the establishment of 60 universities and an increase in the number of students pursuing higher education. He dismisses claims of high illiteracy rates, stating that the number of illiterate individuals has been decreasing, and significant investments have been made in improving the educational system.

Joining ASEAN and Attracting Investments:

The President discusses Timor-Leste's plans to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the potential benefits it would bring, such as increased job creation and investment opportunities. He highlights Timor-Leste's attractiveness as an investment destination due to its unexplored nature, generous tax regime, peaceful environment, and potential gas revenues from the Greater Sunrise project. The President assures that Timor-Leste is ready to welcome foreign investors from various countries and sectors, including tourism, agriculture, fisheries, and infrastructure.

Economic Sustainability and Future Revenues:

Addressing concerns about the depletion of Timor-Leste's petroleum fund, the President assures that the country is diversifying its investments. Apart from investing in US Treasury bonds and equity portfolios, Timor-Leste is optimistic about the commercial production of the Greater Sunrise project, which could bring substantial revenues in the future. The President anticipates that an agreement on the development option will be reached soon, leading to revenue inflows even before commercial production begins.

Timor-Leste's President presents a positive outlook for his country, emphasizing its peaceful coexistence, democratic progress, and economic development. The nation's focus on eliminating poverty, improving education, and attracting foreign investment positions it for a promising future. With plans to join ASEAN and potential gas revenues, Timor-Leste is ready to take its place on the international stage while remaining committed to regional cooperation and good relations with neighboring countries.

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