Deputy Director-General Zhang Xiangchen welcomed the delegation and commended Timor-Leste for its solid progress in the accession process during the last 18 months, including the last Working Party meeting in July 2021. He underlined the readiness of the Secretariat to provide technical assistance and capacity building to help the Government achieve its objective of finalizing accession negotiations by the end of 2022.
Minister Amaral, who was accompanied by Vice-Minister Domingos Lopes Antunes and Ambassador Lurdes Bessa, reiterated his government's commitment to accelerate the accession negotiations in the coming months toward its ambitious goal of completion in 2022. He also provided updates on preparations for the 3rd meeting of the Working Party. He emphasized the importance of technical assistance and capacity building and expressed appreciation for the support received from a number of partners.
On 2 December, a roundtable was organized for the 31 members of the delegation, which included officials from ministries and authorities engaged in the accession process as well as private sector and civil society representatives.
At the roundtable, DDG Zhang looked back at China's accession to the WTO and underlined that “the promotion of domestic reforms is the basis for WTO accession, and also the basis of the benefits that acceding countries can get from the process”.
Ambassador Rui Macieira of Portugal, chair of the Working Party on the Accession of Timor-Leste, shared the experience of his country joining the European Union. He noted: “The accession is a shock for the administration and the private sector, but these shocks are also an opportunity.”
They also shared their observations on best practices in accession, including the engagement of the private sector and civil society in the process, the need for public outreach and awareness raising, the management of parallel negotiations between WTO accession and regional and bilateral trade agreements, and the preparation for post-accession.
The roundtable was followed on 3 December by a technical training session focused on bilateral market access negotiations in services. This training session tackled a number of technical issues and sectoral questions regarding Timor-Leste's services offer, in preparation for the next Working Party meeting cycle next year.
Timor-Leste, a least developed country which gained independence in 2002, applied for accession in November 2016. The Working Party was established in December 2016. More information here.