Timor-Leste submitted its application for accession to the WTO in November 2016 as part of a broader national trade strategy to integrate the country further into the world economy to promote economic growth and development. Timor-Leste’s New Accession Roadmap envisions the accession process to be finalized by February 2023.
Complementing the work of other international donors, this CTIF technical assistance supports Timor-Leste in achieving this national trade objective. CTIF’s assistance includes trade negotiation training, collaboration on policy briefs to inform Timor-Leste’s WTO accession strategy, translation of legal documents to fulfill WTO accession requirements, and assistance with stakeholder strategy development and engagement. CTIF’s assistance uses an inclusive approach to programming design and delivery to promote increased participation and influence of women and other marginalized groups in developing and implementing Timor-Leste’s national trade strategy.
As the government body responsible for negotiating Timor-Leste’s accession to the WTO, the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs is the direct beneficiary of this CTIF assistance. However, other ministries with trade-related responsibilities are expected to also benefit from this assistance.
From a capacity-building perspective, this technical assistance is expected to enhance the skills of current and future trade negotiators as Timor-Leste moves forward with the implementation of its national trade strategy.
Problem being addressed by CTIF
WTO accession is a complex process. The terms under which Timor-Leste accedes will have a lasting impact on how trade influences the national economy’s future direction. Therefore, it is critical that Timor-Leste understands how to implement a WTO accession strategy that advances its national interests. Supporting Timor-Leste’s WTO accession is expected to improve the country’s participation in the accession process. This increased participation will lead to broader domestic support for the final terms of WTO accession and the role of these terms in creating a more favourable trade and investment environment to promote economic growth and development.
Multiple studies demonstrate that developing countries benefit economically from a more credible, predictable, transparent trade and investment regime. As a mechanism to promote these objectives, WTO accession and eventual membership are important components of any country’s national trade strategy. A majority of least developed countries that have acceded to the WTO also report that WTO accession can positively impact poverty reduction. Therefore, WTO membership is both a tool for economic growth and more inclusive economic development.