Timor-Leste: ASEAN leader expects country to join by late 2023

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, who currently chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said on Wednesday he was “optimistic” that Timor-Leste’s accession would be completed “no later than next year”.

According to the Cambodian newspaper Khmer Times, Hun Sen added that “Timor-Leste’s accession process is progressing well” during the opening ceremony of a summit of ASEAN foreign ministers in the capital, Phnom Penh.

On Tuesday, the same newspaper wrote that the Cambodian leader had also sent a letter to the Timorese Prime Minister, Taur Matan Ruak, expressing his “unwavering support” for Timor-Leste’s accession.

Timor-Leste is currently an observer member of ASEAN, having applied to join the regional body in 2011.

The last ASEAN preliminary assessment mission was in Timor-Leste last month, focusing on economic issues, the Timorese president told Lusa on 18 July.

José Ramos-Horta was speaking before leaving for a visit to Indonesia, which included a meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who takes over the ASEAN presidency in November.

Ramos-Horta said on 22 April that joining ASEAN was an “absolute priority” for Timor-Leste, which would allow it to make a “great leap in its development.

China, which is not part of the regional bloc, “continues to support Timor-Leste’s accession to ASEAN,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on 4 June during a visit to Dili.

On 25 May, the Timorese government authorized the parliament to draft a law on company recovery and insolvency, something that will respond to the “demands of integration in ASEAN and the WTO” (World Trade Organization).