[Timor-Leste] Open Space #1: Opportunity for The Youth in ASEAN Agreement

Published by AYF Secretariat on

As an emerging country in South East Asia, Timor-Leste has been facing a serious challenge of limited job opportunities for a rapidly growing population. Among the working-age population, only 31 percent are currently engaged in work. On the other hand, half of the population is between the age of 15-24 years olds, making it more urgent to address the matter of unemployment which will contribute to reducing poverty and increasing economic growth. 

Timor Leste Asean Youth Forum Special Rapporteurs gathered various youth opinions to discuss the opportunity of increasing youth capabilities and job opportunities once the country joined ASEAN. The discussion was attended by 24 participants which mostly consisted of university students and volunteers of youth organizations. All of them were very curious about the potential opportunities as well as challenges that would be encountered if Timor Leste joined ASEAN.

Timor-Leste Government’s official membership application to ASEAN Forum Secretariat has been taking for almost a decade since the first official application was initiated in 2011. Despite the long period, the commitment to become a member of ASEAN remains unchanged. The report of the ASEAN Fact-Finding Mission to Timor-Leste conducted in September 2019 stated that accession always became a national interest.

According to Timor Leste Director General for ASEAN Affairs, Milena Rangel, the county will gain many benefits from the accession process to ASEAN. Apart from bringing benefits for peace and stability, the membership will also open many opportunities for the young generation to expand the network and gain resources to learn from each other. Accordingly, Timor Leste's youth should take an active part in preparing themselves for the future. 


The speaker also reported that Timor Leste has made promising progress on the accession process. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation maintained solid coordination with all sector ministries to prepare qualified human resources which will become precious assets when participating in the ASEAN forum. Nevertheless, Timor Leste still has an opportunity to analyze the advantages and disadvantages of joining ASEAN for Timorese prior to the agreement. 

The participants of the forum were interested to find out about the learning opportunities provided by the Municipality Training Center and other NGOs. It is also reported that the Timor Leste government has invested in a vocational training program to expand the skills of its young generation. With many opportunities available, it is the youth’s responsibility to become more self-proactive in order to meet the future’s demands.

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Here are some highlights from the session

“Timor-Leste has made great progress on the accession and has already received an invitation to participate in the ASEAN Forum but has no right to vote yet.”

Director General of ASEAN, Mrs. Milena Rangel 


“The young people are recommended to take advantage of the existing youth network in the country and abroad to share the resources and learn from each other.”

Timor-Leste ASEAN Youth Forum Special Rapporteurs Ms. Pascoela Branco


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