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Canada - Timor-Leste Relations

The Canadian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia is accredited to Timor-Leste.

Since gaining independence in 2002, Timor-Leste has made great strides towards establishing peace and stability, building democratic institutions and laying the groundwork for vibrant civil society. Canada is committed to building relationships with countries in Southeast Asia, and has long considered Timor-Leste a friend.
Canada’s bilateral engagement with Timor-Leste is managed through the Embassy of Canada in Indonesia. Canada has traditionally advocated for democratic development; public administration; the implementation of the rule of law to ensure peace and stability, and women’s rights. In July 2014, then Foreign Minister Baird became the first Canadian Minister to conduct an official bilateral visit to Timor-Leste, meeting with the President, Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister.

Between 1999 and 2010, Canada was a significant contributor to Timor-Leste’s security. In 1999, more than 600 Canadian Forces members were deployed to Timor-Leste. The Canadian Airlift Task Force, made up of two Hercules aircraft and more than 100 personnel, transported approximately one million kilograms of cargo and more than 2,000 passengers between Australia and Timor-Leste. A Canadian warship and its Sea King helicopters likewise played important logistical roles.

During that same period, Canada also contributed meaningfully to a range of UN mandated missions in Timor-Leste. For example, Canada contributed police experts to the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) from December 2006 until January 2010, providing stability to Timor-Leste while simultaneously assisting its national police to professionalize.

Regarding democratic development, before our bilateral aid program wound down in 2006, Canada maintained a Program Support Unit in Dili that helped facilitate the delivery of approximately $4-5 million in development assistance every year. Canada has sought other ways to contribute to Timorese development since then. From 2010-2015, for example, Canada provided $1.2 million to support the livelihoods of marginal communities through sustainable farming in Manatuto and Aileu.

In recent years, Canada supports human rights projects with grassroots organizations via the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives program. In 2016-17, for example, Canada supported three initiatives focusing on increasing access for women and girls to the judicial system; creating climate change youth champions; and, monitoring security sector professionalism ahead of the country’s presidential and legislative elections in 2017.

Canada is contributing to the development of Timor-Leste through initiatives with regional and multilateral partners on key areas such as disaster risk management, the empowerment of women and girls, and sustainable infrastructure. For example, through partnerships with the Canadian Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Canada supported Timor-Leste’s efforts to gain regional knowledge and strengthen its approaches to plan for and mitigate natural disasters. Canada also supported the country in implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) by helping establish a new mandatory course on women and human rights for magistrates, prosecutors, public defenders, and lawyers. Most recently, Canada is helping build the country’s capacity to develop public-private partnership (PPP) initiatives through the Asia-Pacific Project Preparation Facility managed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Bilateral trade relations remain modest, but growing. Canada imports mostly coffee, tea and spices.

Canada encourages the integration of the Government of Timor-Leste into the international community. Canada and Timor-Leste share membership in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

 August 2017

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