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USAID/Timor-Leste Revenue Enhancement for Good Governance Activity (REGGA) Official Press Release

For Immediate Release

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Development Outreach Communications Officer James Reindl or Development Outreach Communications Specialist Cristóvão Fausto Guterres +670 330 0500

DILI, TIMOR-LESTE – Customs operations in Timor-Leste will be reformed and streamlined to promote economic development, greater business transparency and security and adoption of world trade standards under a new $5-million project announced today by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Timor-Leste Ministry of Finance.

USAID Timor-Leste has signed an agreement with International Business Initiatives Corp. (IBI) to begin work immediately on the three-year project, which is expected to be completed in May 2020. The project will result in a more efficient and effective customs operation that meets world standards and increases government revenue.

“USAID’s new customs project is designed to ensure that the Government of Timor-Leste meets global standards for customs operations, one of the pre-conditions for World Trade Organization and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) accession,” said USAID Timor-Leste Mission Director Diana Putman.

The project will strengthen the governance of the new Customs Authority, a key government institution, which will contribute to meeting the goals of the Government of Timor-Leste Fiscal Reform Plan. The plan will enhance revenue through improved systems, procedures and personnel.

“A professional and transparent Customs Authority is the gateway to prosperity for Timor-Leste, and the Government thanks USAID for their commitment to helping us reform customs,” said Vice Minister of Finance Helder Lopes. “This three-year project will help increase our domestic revenues, facilitate trade and strengthen our institutional capacity to attract investment and diversify our economy.”

The customs project – USAID/Timor-Leste Revenue Enhancement for Good Governance Activity (REGGA) -- is being undertaken to help Timor-Leste strengthen democracy and governance. Under the project design, IBI will strengthen the institutional and human capacity of the Customs Authority so it can follow global and regional best practices in trade, specifically the 2005 World Customs Organization Framework of Standards to Secure and Facilitate Global Trade (SAFE), the 2003 Revised Arusha Declaration concerning good governance and integrity in customs and the trade component of the ASEAN Agreement on Trade in Goods.

Improved customs operations also will help spur economic growth and investment by reducing trade costs and shortening customs clearance times. USAID works closely with the government and people of Timor-Leste to foster inclusive and sustainable economic growth, especially in the agriculture sector; encourage private-sector competitiveness; tackle serious health challenges, particularly those affecting women and children; strengthen sub-national democratic institutions and the foundations of good governance; protect the environment; and help at risk populations adapt to climate change.

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