There are still significant challenges for the private sector investors in Timor-Leste. Struggling infrastructure, low availability of skilled human resources and unfavourable policies act as obstacles to investment. Although the government has identified key sectors for growth – including agriculture, tourism and manufacturing – to diversify away from the reliance on the oil and gas sector, concrete plans to attract investors in these growth areas are yet to be developed by policy makers.
TradeInvest Timor-Leste operates under the Coordinating Ministry of Economic Affairs (MECAE) and aims to facilitate foreign and domestic investors via promotion, facilitation and coordination. Its goal is to help potential investors settle in Timor-Leste and to help foreign companies identify projects in the vast array of business opportunities that are emerging in the country. TradeInvest positions itself as a one-stop-shop for information on tax, licencing, investment opportunities, permits and tariffs, advising importers of the right procedures. It also has a mandate to research and analyse the business environment in Timor-Leste.
However, TradeInvest requires technical assistance to identify and engage with relevant domestic and foreign investors currently operating in Timor-Leste. It also requires support with assessing private investors’ needs in terms of technical skill development, infrastructure investment, marketing, distribution, and favourable industry laws and regulation.
MDF has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with TradeInvest to help promote it as a one-stop agency for investors. Following on from partnerships that build capacity, set up infrastructure, create backward linkages and help with marketing and distribution challenges, MDF is focussing on strengthening engagement with key government agencies. Partnering with TradeInvest will help to promote evidence-based dialogues reflecting on the experiences and learning from MDF partnerships and provide input on key private sector reform efforts. Through working with the private sector, MDF will be able to share business intelligence generated from in depth research and scoping on the key economic sectors in Timor-Leste.
A series of events, thematic workshops and seminars will be organised in collaboration with TradeInvest to bring potential investors from various industries to the forefront where these enterprises will be able to network, exchange ideas and form relationships. Through the partnership, MDF will foster the ability to have an open dialogue with Government and share experiences regarding the legal and regulatory investment framework, drawn from other MDF partnerships in agribusiness, manufacturing and tourism.