DILI, TIMOR-LESTE (11 October 2019) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Timor-Leste marked the beginning of a new phase of cooperation following the transfer of ADB’s operations in Timor-Leste to its Southeast Asia Regional Department from the Pacific Regional Department. The transfer, at the request of the government, took effect on 1 October 2019.
To mark the transition, an ADB team led by Director General for Southeast Asia Mr. Ramesh Subramaniam, on 11 October, discussed how to strengthen the relationship between ADB and Timor-Leste with high-level government officials. They included Prime Minister Mr. Taur Matan Ruak, Acting Minister of Finance and ADB Governor Ms. Sara Lobo Brites, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Mr. Dionisio da Costa Babo Soares, and Minister of Public Works Mr. Salvador Soares dos Reis Pires.
ADB Alternate Executive Director representing Timor-Leste Mr. Shahid Mahmood introduced the ADB delegation, including ADB’s new Country Director for Timor-Leste, Mr. Sunil Mitra, to officials and participated in all the meetings. Highlighting ADB's speedy transfer of Timor-Leste to the Southeast Asia Department, Mr. Mahmood noted ADB will continue to work closely with the government as well as the private sector to support the country in meeting its development requirements.
“We appreciate the partnership with ADB and are looking forward to deepening our cooperation in the long term,” said Mr. Babo Soares.
Ms. Brites said Timor-Leste is looking forward to expanded cooperation with ADB and other Southeast Asian countries. “The partnership between ADB and Timor-Leste promises to be a fruitful one,” she said. “The bank has been a reliable and responsive partner in mobilizing resources and technical support across Asia, and we hope our work together will help improve the quality of life of our people.”
The ADB delegation included officials in charge of ADB’s Southeast Asia operations in transport, energy, agriculture, and water and urban services, as well as regional cooperation and integration.
“ADB is committed to supporting Timor-Leste in reaching its development goals,” said Mr. Subramaniam. “We are pleased to be helping the country improve its connectivity and deepen its ties with the rest of Southeast Asia. With abundant natural resources, a young and dynamic population, and a strategic location within Southeast Asia, Timor-Leste can build a strong, resilient economy that can benefit its people for generations to come.”
The ADB team briefed the government on ADB’s work in member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Timor-Leste, along with progress under a May 2019 memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Indonesia’s Ministry of Finance, Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Finance, and ADB that aims to strengthen regional cooperation and integration. ADB is working with both countries to reduce barriers to cross-border land and air transportation, as well as simplifying the procedures for border management. Under the MOU, Timor-Leste is also working with Indonesia to boost livestock trade and tourism.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. In 2018, it made commitments of new loans and grants amounting to $21.6 billion. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.