flag East-Timor East-Timor: Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Timor-Leste is a country open to foreign trade, which represents around 100% of its GDP (World Bank, latest data available). Export growth has been constrained, with the export base disproportionately narrow. More than 95% of exports are dominated by oil, gas, coffee, and tourism services, which leaves the economy highly vulnerable to both internal and external risks. In terms of merchandise, in 2022, mineral fuels accounted for 68.6% of exports, ahead of coffee (26.7%). On the other hand, imports are more diversified and included mineral fuels (23.6%), vehicles (8.2%), machinery and mechanical appliances (7.8%), cereals (7.4%), beverages, spirits, and vinegar (5.1%), and electrical machinery and equipment (4.5% - data ITC).

According to ITC figures, in 2022, Timor-Leste's main export partners were China (26.1%), Indonesia (21.9%), Korea, Republic of (21.2%), Japan (20.6%), Australia (2.9%), Singapore (2.1%), with imports coming chiefly from Indonesia (28.8%), China (14.8%), Taipei, Chinese (10.2%), Singapore (9.6%), Malaysia (5.8%), Australia (5.1%). The factors that limit trade include poor infrastructure, weak development of its financial sector, high interest rates in private banks, and the lack of a skilled labor force. The country has very few trade barriers, and customs duties are low. Timor-Leste is a member of the IMF and is pursuing accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the EU-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA - which currently include Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and the Solomon Islands, all of which benefit from duty-free and quota-free exports to the EU). The country finally signed the protocol to join the WTO on February 26th, 2024.

Timor-Leste has a structural trade deficit. In 2022, merchandise exports totaled USD 471 million against USD 933 million in imports (data ITC). According to preliminary figures from the National Statistics Institute (INE), in 2023, Timor-Leste's trade deficit hit USD 750 million. This was the result of USD 160 million in exports and 910 million in imports. According to INE data, Timor-Leste exported the following quantities last year: coffee (5,848 tons), valued at USD 14 million; candlenuts (1,700 tons - USD 477,000); dried coconut pulp (1,394 tons - valued at USD 383,000); yam (180 tons - valued at USD 131,000); and aluminum equivalent to USD 33,000.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 591625873934894
Exports of Goods (million USD) 154264616473295
Imports of Services (million USD) 447847549502428
Exports of Services (million USD) 9240286069
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 61110n/an/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1,0512078n/an/a
Trade Balance (million USD) -566-5101,4881,093n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 7185100n/an/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 494836n/an/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 213764n/an/a

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

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To go further, check out our service Import controls and Export controls

To go further, check out our service Import-Export Flows


Main Services

0.1 bn USD of services exported in 2022
0.6 bn USD of services imported in 2022

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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List of tariffs and local taxes that apply to your product on our service Customs Duties


Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Party to the International Coffee Agreement
International Economic Cooperation
Member of International Federation for East Timor - IEFT
Useful Resources
Ministry of Finances
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
Department of the Legal and Treaties Affairs

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Latest Update: May 2024