Ambassador Kathleen Fitzpatrick Remarks at the the USAID Customs Reform Project

Your Excellency Sara Lobo Brites, Vice Minister for the Ministry of Finance

Mr. José Antonio Fatima Abílio, Customs Authority Acting Commissioner

Esteemed National Directors and Customs Authority Officials

Honored members of the business community

USAID Customs Reform Project Staff and USAID Colleagues

Good Afternoon

I am very pleased that the US Embassy has been able to partner with the Customs Authority through the USAID Customs Reform Project to help Timor-Leste meet the standards of the World Trade Organization.  The many positive changes that have been adopted will also help Timor-Leste’s bid to join ASEAN, which the US strongly supports.

I would also like to recognize the very important role that the Customs Reform Project played in helping the country to address COVID-19 by streamlining the importation of essential goods, especially food and medicine.

The United States considers Timor-Leste an important friend and ally. We support a free, open and transparent East Asia and Pacific region.  The work you are doing to reform the Customs Authority is to be commended for advancing transparency, governance, and promoting economic growth.

I am well aware of the tremendous progress you have made in your collective work.  I congratulate you, particularly Acting Commissioner Abílio and National Director Gomes.

The provision of Customs Bonded Warehouses and temporary storage facilities are key trade facilitation related measures. The provision of these types of regimes to the trading community by the Customs Authority will ensure compliance with World Trade Organization and ASEAN related international standards.

It will directly also assist you in being able to import, store, and then process goods far quicker, and more cost efficiently.

I am aware that many of you – in your positions as representatives of your respective businesses – were involved in the drafting of the new standards and regulations concerning these facilities.

This represents an important change in direction by the Customs Authority, which recognizes the importance of engaging with the business community from the earliest opportunity when seeking to change rules and procedures.

All of you deserve credit for working together to secure these necessary improvements and I applaud you for them. But, of course, none of us gets to rest on our accomplishments. There is always more work to do.

We’re very glad to have Customs Reform in our portfolio. Adding it to our agriculture, tourism, health and governance activities makes USAID a full partner in helping Timor-Leste become a self-reliant nation able to meet its own development challenges.

The United States and USAID stand ready to help as the country continues along its journey to self-reliance.

Thank you.