Timor-Leste’s President Meets Lao Counterpart in State Visit to Vientiane

President Jose Ramos-Horta of Timor-Leste and Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith (Photo: Pasaxon News)

President Jose Ramos-Horta of Timor-Leste and his delegation arrived in Vientiane for an official state visit from February 27 to March 2 to strengthen diplomatic ties.

The visit, prompted by an invitation from Lao President Thongloun Sisoulith, included events such as President Ramos-Horta’s wreath-laying ceremony at the Unknown Heroes’ Monument in Vientiane Capital, honoring Lao ancestors and revolutionary fighters.

During discussions at the Lao National Assembly Hall, both leaders emphasized the importance of deepening relations and cooperation between their countries, especially in light of Timor-Leste’s recent accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the WTO’s 166th country on 26 February.

At the meeting, both sides also agreed to establish the Joint Committee on Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) to enhance cooperation and ensure efficient implementation of their bilateral agreements and signed Letters of Intent for future exchanges of embassy lands between the two countries.

Against the backdrop of Laos’ ASEAN chairmanship and Timor-Leste’s observer status within the bloc, both countries affirmed their support for each other’s regional efforts.

Geographically situated between Southeast Asia and the South Pacific region, Timor-Leste has a small, developing economy heavily reliant on oil revenues. However, the country is poised for rapid growth, with an anticipated average growth rate of 4.1 percent in both 2024 and 2025. This growth is attributed to reduced inflationary pressures and a stable fiscal situation, the World Bank reported.

Additionally, Timor-Leste’s government is also focusing on capital spending and infrastructure investment to further boost economic growth, with a rise in the budget allocation from 18.4 percent of GDP in 2023 to 24.5 percent of GDP in 2024.

Timor-Leste is also Asia’s youngest country, gaining independence in May 2002.  In July of the same year, it established diplomatic relations with Laos, marking the beginning of a growing partnership between the two nations.

In 2014, Timor-Leste inaugurated its embassy in Vientiane, aiming to further bolster the bilateral friendship over the years.