On Monday 6th & Tuesday 7th of June 2016, Trade Invest Timor-Leste in partnership with Informa Australia held their first International Investment Conference in Dili, Timor-Leste. The objective of the conference was to welcome international and Timorese investors to highlight business opportunities in the different sectors of the Timorese economy and discuss the current reform changes implemented to facilitate project developments.
Sunday 5th June, Welcome Reception
The conference started with the Welcome Reception on Sunday afternoon at the Sky Terrace. Mr. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, H.E Minister for Planning and Strategic Investment addressed the reception and welcomed the participants to the 1st International Investment Conference. In his speech, the Minister highlighted the importance of the conference to provide information from the Government and major project proponents on the available opportunities in Timor-Leste and to meet with the key players from the Government and the private sector in order to better assist them with knowledge and contacts to enable them to decide the next step in business development in Timor-Leste.
Monday 6th June, Conference Day 1
Eng Arcanjo da Silva, TradeInvest Timor-Leste Executive Director, welcomed the conference delegates and opened the conference with a few words on the role of TradeInvest.
The Government through the Minister of State, Coordinator of Economic Affairs introduced the economic reform agenda: the five pillars (Oil and Gas sector, Agriculture Sector, Fisheries sector, Tourism sector, and Manufacturing Industry sector) were presented as the key sectors of the Government. TradeInvest is the Export and Investment Promotion Agency of Timor-Leste, and as such is the first contact point for local and foreign investors who are interested in coming to explore investment opportunities in Timor-Leste.
The agency has changed the way it serves and approaches investors by being more pro-actively engaged and by facilitating investor to ensure investor experience ease of doing business environment in Timor-Leste.
This 1st International Investment conference is the continuation commitment that the Government through TradeInvest Timor-Leste has shown to existing and potential local and foreign investor that the country is on the right direction to create more sustainable business environment for investment. The collaboration with Informa Australia is made with the consideration of a fantastic track record that Informa has in developing innovative investment forums for developing countries.
The first morning of the conference included the opening ceremony, a focus on the mineral and petroleum sector and an outlook on Timor-Leste investment opportunities and players.
The opening ceremony featured keynote addresses from Dr. Rui Maria de Araujo, H.E. Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Peter Doyle, Australian Ambassador to Timor-Leste, and The Hon Peter Styles, MLA, Deputy Chief Minister, Northern Territory Government.
Petroleum and mineral sectors
The session was chaired by Rui Soares, Director-Development and Production at the Autoridade Nacional do Petróleo e Minerais (ANPM) and started with a comprehensive presentation from José Lobato Gonçalves, Country Manager at Conoco Phillips on the Bayu-Undan field operations and plans for future developments. The Bayu-Undan field was discovered in 1995 and has now delivered more than 590 cargos of LNG. Jose commented on the company local involvement with the capacity building programs that include training and graduate internship programs. A national industry capability study was also completed to assess current services available and what resources are still required. The second part of his talk outlined the plans for future developments with the extension of Bayu-Undan by investing in Infill Wells. Mr Lobato concluded with a perspective on the current challenging market conditions and the impact on LNG developments.
Mateus da Costa, Director – Explorations and Acreage Release, Autoridade Nacional do Petróleo e Minerais then provided an overview of Upstream and Downstream Petroleum business portfolio in Timor-Leste, and shared the ANPM experience in managing petroleum resources and the development and implementation of the suitable legal framework for the industry.
His presentation was followed by a wide-ranging presentation about Timor Gap operations and the development of the petroleum sector and its socio-economic impacts. Mr Francisco da Costa Monteiro, President and CEO, Timor Gap demonstrated the country’s commitment to further exploration and develop the regions’ petroleum and mining potentials.
Fernanda Borges, Fiscal Reform Commission Coordinator, gave a presentation on how fiscal reform will facilitate trade and promote investment by creating predictable and efficient systems and processes. In particular, she highlighted the potential of Timor-Leste to connect the ASEAN and CPLP countries through the Timor-Leste national single window that will grow business access to a unified market of over 2.4 billion people.
Key agencies and organisations are collaborating with TradeInvest in Timor-Leste from which companies investing can receive support and guidance. Dr Miguel Frasquilho President of AICEP-Portugal detailed the bilateral cooperation between Investment Agency and Sr Joao Alves, Vice-President of the Timor-Leste Chamber of Commerce highlighted their role facilitating new investment opportunities in the country.
The Asian Development Bank is a key partner for the development of Timor-Leste and TradeInvest Timor-Leste. David Freedman Country Economist for ADB Timor-Leste Resident Mission delivered a presentation on the implications of ASEAN Membership for Timor-Leste.
Major project developments
In the afternoon, discussions revolved around business leader experiences and achievements developing a range of projects in the country. We first heard about “The Heineken Experience” from Vinay Mathur, General Manager – Timor Leste at Heineken Asia Pacific who explained the project rational and provided an update on the construction and the training of Timorese employees to work in the factory.
The audience then had the opportunity to hear from MrJames Rhee, Managing Director of Timor-Leste Cement who presented the first major manufacturing project to build a cement plant. He commented on the achievements to date and the next steps required to start the construction.
Tourism and hospitality
After the afternoon break we were delighted to hear more about the story of our host where the conference was held, owner and manager of the Timor Plaza Hotel that provided a professional conference venue. Alan F K Jape is the Group Managing Director of Jape Group International and his presentation explained the story of the Jape Family who came back in Timor-Leste in early 2000, invested in building the Timor Plaza in 2013, which has been progressing rapidly with the Dili Central Expansion Plan. The Jape Group understands the importance of the tourism sector for the development of the country and is currently investing in an eco-resort to attract international visitors and further develop the sector and continue to increase the potential of the country.
Alan’s presentation introduced the topic of our next presenter, Ms Susan Marx, Country Representative at The Asia Foundation who provided relevant fast facts about the tourism industry and what opportunities it brings to the country’s development.
The afternoon concluded with a panel joined by Susan Marx, James Rhee, and Vinay Mathur who shared their views and experiences on their journey investing and partnering in Timor-Leste to build project and collaborate with Timorese companies and implement training programmes.
Tuesday 7th June, Conference Day 2
Doing business in Timor-Leste
The opening session on Day 2 focussed on business developments and initiatives on how to do business in Timor-Leste. Mr Peter McMullin, Vice-President of the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry outlined the importance of such conference to increase investor’s confidence and interest in taking on these opportunities. Fatima Elsheikh, Chief Technical Advisor Social Business for UNDP Timor-Leste, highlighted the many small businesses initiatives and local services capabilities in the country. David Dennis and David Lin from ANZ Timor Leste reiterated the current key state initiatives implemented to facilitate major project developments and outline the importance of connectivity for the country and the need for further financial inclusion.
Infrastructure and logistics
Rafael Ribeiro, Managing Director of SDV East Timor, Bollore Group, delivered a key presentation on the construction of the Tibar Bay Port Project which will create 500 jobs during the construction period, and another 500 to operate the port. Jonathon Kirkby, Senior Operations Officer, International Finance Corporation (IFC) followed on Rafael’s presentation to comment on the importance of this project as the first public-private partnership in Timor-Leste which succeeded with the signature of the Concession Agreement.
As a port user, it was then very insightful to hear from Ian Redfern, General Manager Coastal & Logistics, ANL Container Line about the role of international shipping for the TL economy and the current opportunities and challenges.
The morning session concluded with a panel with the speakers and joined by Arcanjo da Silva, Executive Director, TradeInvest Timor-Leste, and Fernanda Borges, Senior Coordinator for Fiscal Reform, Ministry of Finance who commented on Timor-Leste reforms agenda and what to expect in coming years with the changes currently being implemented to coordinate Minister and finance reforms.
Nicholas Richards, Chief of Party, USAID’s Avansa Agrikultura Project delivered a very interesting presentation on horticulture products and the great potential for Timor-Leste to become a next exporter of food and a source of clean and green produce and products across a wide range of commodities. From coastal lowland crops such as spices, coffee, cashew, coconuts, tropical fruits and vegetables, to the highland value chains encompassing strawberries, low chill temperate and sub -tropical fruits and vegetables, Timor –Leste has great potential to supply.
Dr Nigel Preston, Director General, WorldFish presented the current hatchery project in Timor-Leste and the many
positive outcomes it will bring in terms of nutrition, training and employment. Nigel noted the potential for the development of the aquaculture sector in the country.
Peter Dirou, Senior Financial Sector Expert, Asian Development Bank delivered a speech entitled: “The Importance of Financial Sector Reform”. The presentation discussed what to expect from the financial system in a small country like Timor-Leste and the importance of risk taking and the management of that risk.
Luis Florindo, Executive Director, Business Development, EY Portugal presented the latest Timor-Leste Investment Guide which provides information on legal, financial and tax matters.
The conference concluded with a keynote address from Eng Estanislau Aleixo da Silva, H.E Minister of State, Coordinator for Economic Affairs who highlighted the diversification of the Timorese economy and opportunities various sectors.