Good morning! My respects to His Excellency Minister Fidelis Leite Magalhães and esteemed colleagues from across government, civil society, and the private sector.
I am very pleased that the United States government chose Timor-Leste for a Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact, a large five-year grant program. As all U.S. government agencies in other countries, the MCC work is now part of the overall mission of the U.S. Embassy in Dili and we are actively engaged and committed to this effort. The United States and Timor-Leste are close partners, and this compact will be a testament to what we can accomplish together.
I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and welcome the Millennium Challenge Corporation team from Washington, DC, who are joining us for this most important workshop. The Millennium Challenge Corporation, or MCC, is an innovative United States foreign aid agency. MCC was founded on the principles of rewarding countries for strong governance, making data and evidence-driven investments, and empowering countries to lead their own development. MCC’s singular focus on economic growth is one of the most effective ways to achieve widespread and lasting reductions in poverty in the developing world. MCC’s investments are focused on infrastructure – like roads, bridges, ports, electricity, education, public services and agricultural production to enable long-term growth, reduce poverty and spur private investment.
I would like to say a few words about what sets MCC apart from other donors. First, MCC programs are country-owned and country-led. This means partner countries design programs based on their own priorities. This is a program that will truly be by Timor for Timor. Second, MCC takes a results-based approach to identify projects that will have the greatest impact. Using data and evidence, our teams will work together to develop and then implement projects that catalyze economic growth to reduce poverty. Today, MCC has invested more than $12 billion in projects around the world, and it is playing an increasingly large role here in Asia. The agency’s investments in infrastructure and policy reform in Asia have surpassed almost $2 billion in the last five years and are likely to increase by another $1 billion over the next five years, positioning the agency as one of the largest U.S. government investors in the region.
Now, the key to our success will be the strength of the partnership between our two teams. I’m encouraged to see attendance today from across government, civil society, and the private sector. Your contributions today and in the future are critical to developing a transformative compact program for Timor-Leste. Your attendance today also demonstrates Timor-Leste’s commitment to the values and principles at the heart of MCC of good governance, democracy, and investing in people. These values and principles are essential for attaining shared prosperity. I would like to commend the Government of Timor-Leste for the democratic gains that it has made. I would also like to acknowledge the incredible commitment the Government of Timor-Leste has made to this compact. While MCC provides financial and technical resources, the Government of Timor-Leste is responsible for implementing the projects and the important policy and institutional reforms that can be politically difficult choices.
The goal of today’s workshop is to discuss key challenges to economic growth in Timor-Leste. This workshop is a start of the process of identifying and selecting specific issues that the people of Timor-Leste want to address. The United States and Timor-Leste are committed to working together to increase economic opportunities for all of Timor-Leste. We believe that a prosperous, democratic and secure Timor-Leste is good for the United States, good for the region, and good for the world.
We are grateful for your support, and looking forward to working with you in the years to come. Thank you!