East Timor imported $597 million worth of goods last year, soaring 27 per cent from $470 million in 2018, reported Portugal’s Lusa News Agency, citing data from the Ministry of Finance.
Of this, 37.9 per cent came from Indonesia, 16.2 per cent from Hong Kong, 14.6 per cent from Singapore and 14.4 per cent from mainland China, the ministry’s General Directorate of Statistics said in its annual External Trade Statistics Report 2019.
Portugal, the country’s former colonial power, was 14th on the list, exporting $5.4 million worth of goods, Lusa reported.
East Timor mainly imported fuel – accounting for around 25 per cent of the total – followed by vehicles, cereals, machinery, beverages and iron.
The country exported an all-time record of $182.3 million worth of goods last year since it gained independence from Indonesia in 2002, with crude oil included in the figure for the first time last year.
Nearly half of all shipments went to Singapore, with the next largest markets being Malaysia, Japan and China.
East Timor exported more than 7,000 tonnes of coffee (its main export) last year, worth $18.32 million, of which about half went to Indonesia.
Cambodia exported $212,880 worth of goods to East Timor in 2018 and imported $5,300, reported online platform Trading Economics, citing the UN COMTRADE database on international trade.
The two countries have consistently vowed to broaden bilateral trade and investment relations for the benefits of the two countries and peoples.
Cambodia was the first ASEAN member to support East Timor’s bid to join the 10-nation bloc, which it announced in 2011. Membership would dramatically boost its economy, trade and investment.
At an April 17 meeting with the Green Trade Company, under the Ministry of Commerce, and the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF), East Timorese ambassador to Cambodia Ermenegildo “Kupa” Lopes proposed a plan for the Kingdom to start exporting rice to East Timor.
Rice is ready’
At a meeting with Lopes on June 9, Minister of Commerce Pan Sorasak said the Kingdom “has already prepared 30,000 tonnes of rice for export, and we ask the Timorese side to evaluate the ins and outs of the plan and get back to us with its feedback”.
He also called on East Timor’s private sector to invest in a rice mill in the Kingdom.
The revenue generated from the Kingdom’s milled-rice exports has plunged in the last few months, with the 97,408 tonnes shipped to the international market during the May-June period raking in just $54 million, or $554.37 per tonne.
This weighed down the average per-tonne value of milled-rice shipments in the January-June period to $663.88. Meanwhile, the equivalent for the whole of 2019 was $807.93.
Even at the May-June rate, 30,000 tonnes of milled rice would add $16.6 million to the Kingdom’s exports to East Timor, far eclipsing all previous data.
Lopes said East Timor is intent on importing rice from Cambodia and added that it could export crops to the Kingdom as well.
He also mentioned that his country could provide 3,000 fuel sector jobs to Cambodians.
East Timor imported 6,800 tonnes of rice in the first two months of this year, around 5,000 tonnes less than the year-ago period, Port Authority of Timor-Leste (Aportil) data show.
No official data has been released for the subsequent months.