The submission of East Timor as an ASEAN member will be one of the topics discussed by East Timor Foreign Minister Dionisio da Costa Babo Soares during a meeting with Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi in Jakarta on Friday (5/17).
"Indonesia is, indeed, one of the ASEAN countries that consistently supported the application of Timor Leste. This is an effort to realize the vision of ASEAN founding fathers to unite all countries in the region into one organization," Indonesian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said in Jakarta on Thursday.
Indonesia's support for Timor Leste is given politically and concretely, through various capacity building assistance programs to prepare the country before entering ASEAN.
Since proposing that it become a member of ASEAN in 2011, East Timor has continued to strive to fulfill a number of prerequisites in politics, economics, and socio-culture.
"Indeed, being a member of ASEAN is a long process, because there are a number of things that must be fulfilled. For example, Timor Leste can only meet (prerequisites) to establish representation in all ASEAN member countries. This is a good step," Arrmanatha said.
In addition to Indonesia, ASEAN member countries that approve East Timor’s joining ASEAN are Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.
Other countries still doubt the capacity and contribution of East Timor to ASEAN's future, considering the stability of the newly independent country in 2002.
In addition to ASEAN membership, the Indonesian Foreign Minister also invited East Timor to participate in the Pacific Exposition --- an exhibition promoting trade, investment and tourism initiated by Indonesia to further increase its presence in the Pacific.
The exhibition, which is to be held in Auckland, New Zealand, on 11-14 July 2019, is intended to integrate the markets of Indonesia and the Pacific countries, including Timor Leste, which has significant economic potential.
The value of bilateral trade between Indonesia and East Timor in 2018 was recorded at 193 million US dollars, which includes a number of Indonesia's leading export products, such as motorized vehicles, palm oil, household appliances, electronic goods, food and beverages.
"More than 30 percent of East Timor's needs are supplied by Indonesia," Arrmanatha said.
In addition, Indonesia's investment in Timor Leste is quite large, at US $ 595 million, which includes the banking sector, oil and gas, beverage products, and infrastructure.