TradeInvest Timor-Leste is the government's investment and export promotion agency that helps international investors start businesses in the young country. A new USAID grant will cover the government's costs to employ an experienced international manager as the agency establishes its processes and supports policies that encourage foreign direct investment.
A new nationwide training program, developed with USAID support, is bringing important civic leadership and management skills to thousands of newly elected volunteer village council members across Timor-Leste. The National Institute for Public Administration (INAP) developed its training program with help from USAID partner National Democratic Institute (NDI) and USAID’s Small Grants Program.
After achieving threshold country status for the Millennium Challenge Account last year, Timor-Leste’s senior government officials are now working closely with USAID to finalize their proposal to submit to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). A recent two-week assistance visit by two senior USAID economists was followed by a visit from two senior representatives of MCC: Rodney Bent, vice president for policy and international relations, and Bradley C. Parks, development policy officer, and other MCC staff members.
A new steering committee set up to propose a framework of a Timor-Leste business forum met for the first time last week to begin the process of identifying issues that affect business-sector growth. At the committee's request, USAID will support a roundtable discussion on the difficulties of accessing commercial finance and insurance in Timor-Leste.
USAID's enterprise development partner, Dezenvolve Setór Privadu (DSP), is reviewing two new studies on the export potential of coconut products. The first study focuses on the growing niche market for virgin coconut oil, and the second assesses markets for byproducts, including bio-fuel, coconut-shell-activated carbon, geo-textiles for erosion control, and copra. The studies assess global trends, buyer requirements, and constraints to competitiveness, and propose a range of options for the private sector.
Ambassador Sichan Siv, the US rep to UN Economic and Social Council, is visiting Timor-Leste this week to discuss UN reform with government officials and to learn about civil society and private-sector development. With USAID staff and partners he will attend roundtable sessions with NGOs in Baucau, the country's second largest city; meet with representatives of the private sector, the justice sector, civil society, and the media; discuss the upcoming 2007 national elections; and visit USAID partner Cooperativa Café Timor, the country's largest coffee producer and private-sector employer.
Staff members at the new Office of the Provedor (independent ombudsman for human rights, good governance, and anti-corruption) are receiving training in good governance and will focus on anti-corruption. The good governance training was conducted by former New Zealand Ombudsman Mel Smith and current Ombudsman General Manager Peter Brocklehurst, and highlighted the issues of maladministration, case handling, investigation techniques, and relations with other agencies.
The Judicial System Monitoring Programme (JSMP), a Dili-based NGO that monitors Timor-Leste's developing formal justice sector, has released two new reports and has expanded its work to include the country's legislative process. Its new reports, on recent developments in Timor-Leste's four district courts and its overview of the justice sector in 2005, provide comprehensive data and analysis. Continuing USAID support will also allow JSMP to monitor the development and implementation of new legislation, including the criminal code, passed recently by the Council of Ministers.
More than 60 members of Timor-Leste's business community and representatives from the country's business associations gathered last week at a USAID-sponsored meeting to discuss the business environment. Participants also considered the possibility of establishing a Timor-Leste Business Forum as an opportunity for members of the business community to meet regularly and to discuss issues that affect the private sector and to facilitate policy dialog between the private sector and the government.
More than 300 residents of Timor-Leste's outlying district of Oecussi recently participated in a series of USAID-funded legal education workshops. Conducted by lawyers and staff of the Fatu Sinai Foundation of Oecussi, a local NGO, the workshops provided practical information about the formal justice system, the difference between civil and criminal cases, and the law on property ownership, a sometimes contentious issue in a country that has spent more than 400 years under foreign administration. Legal education is an important part of USAID's rule of law focus area in Timor-Leste.