Business Profile

Economy : Subsistence agriculture, forestry and fishing sustain most of the population. The sole export products are coffee beans and sandalwood. The economy as a whole was chronically underdeveloped as a result of centuries of neglect by the Portuguese. The Indonesians built some basic infrastructure (roads, power, telecommunications), but most of that was destroyed or removed by the Indonesians themselves and their client militias in the aftermath of the August 1999 vote for independence. Since then, East Timorís principal source of income has been international aid. However, the countryís originally poor economic prospects have now been transformed by the discovery of large oil and gas fields in the Timor Sea, which lies between Timor itself and the north coast of Australia. Under the terms of a deal negotiated between East Timor and the Australian government, the East Timorese will receive a fixed income of around US$180 million from 2006. (Additional oil and gas deposits have also been discovered in the same area.) There are some doubts about the integrity of the deal. In any event, until then, East Timor will remain one of the regionís poorest nations, with a per capita annual income of US$430.

Commercial Information :
Limited information and advice is available from the Department for Economic Affairs and Planning (e-mail :; website :

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Information provided by East Timor Tourism Board.


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