19 October 2010

ASEAN and Free Trade

La'o Hamutuk has published a new web page in English and Tetum on ASEAN and Free Trade and its implications for Timor-Leste.

In 2002 Timor-Leste became an observer to the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and our Government of Timor-Leste is now working to become a full member. ASEAN includes Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and Viet Nam, with agreements and cooperation focused socio-cultural, security, and economic areas.

To join ASEAN, Timor-Leste must accept neoliberal agreements on free trade among all ASEAN members, as well as with India, China, South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. These agreements will force Timor-Leste to obey rules on tax policy, Foreign Direct Investment and other social and economic policies, limiting our independence an ability to control our economy.

La'o Hamutuk believes that Timor-Leste should decide its social and economic policies and strategies, to most benefit our local economy, before evaluating benefits and risks of ASEAN membership. We believe that Timor-Leste's high dependency on imports, small amount of local production and lack of barriers to market access means that we will receive few economic benefits from joining ASEAN, which comes with great risks.

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