U.S. Government Helps Critical COVID-19 Medical Supplies Flow Easier Through Dili Seaport

Press Release Shim

Speeches Shim

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

DILI, TIMOR-LESTE — Critical medical supplies vital to Timor-Leste’s fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic are moving faster from ship to shore and into the hands of health workers, thanks to efforts by the United States to fast-track customs clearance of COVID-19 material.

Customs officers inspecting a container from China which was found to contain over 75% more goods than had been officially declared.

The U.S. Embassy in Dili, through its U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission’s Customs Reform Project (CRP), worked with the Timor-Leste Customs Authority to develop a list of 34 critical medical supplies related to COVID-19 for faster customs clearance.  Any of the items arriving at the Dili Seaport now receive priority treatment for clearance.

Since development of the list at the end of March, customs workers at the seaport have cleared more than 25,000 kilograms of goods directly related to Timor-Leste’s fight against COVID-19. On average, the goods have cleared in under three days.  Clearance times often are much longer, for a variety of reasons not always related to Customs issues.

“The United States supports  Timor-Leste in its battle against COVID-19,”  said U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Fitzpatrick.  “The United States government has already provided $1.6 million in this effort in Timor-Leste,  and has committed more than $1 billion worldwide.  In addition, our assistance through other projects such as this one also benefit Timor-Leste during this time and for the future.” 

“We’re grateful to the United States for this key support,” said Customs Authority Director General Jose Antonio Fatima Abilio.  “When the CRP approached us with the idea to create a fast-track clearance list for COVID-19 supplies, we quickly recognized how valuable this would be to helping fight the disease in Timor-Leste.”

CRP, which is helping the Customs Authority meet international standards as Timor-Leste pursues membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and World Trade Organization, used a list of COVID-19 related commodities from the World Customs Organization to develop a list specific to Timor-Leste.  The list includes items such as COVID-19 test kits, disinfectants, protective clothing, sterilization products, thermometers, and respirators. CRP was careful to contextualize the list to ensure all goods were classified in line with tariffs in Timor-Leste.

In addition to U.S. government support, the United States’ approach is helping people around the world through the generosity of private businesses, nonprofit groups, charitable organizations, faith-based organizations, and individuals.  Together, Americans have provided more than $4.3 billion in donations and assistance worldwide, in addition to what the U.S. government has provided.

USAID works in partnership with the government of Timor-Leste to support broad-based and effective development.  Since 2002, the United States has provided $542 million in development assistance to Timor-Leste.  USAID supports Timor-Leste in its efforts to build a more prosperous, healthy, and democratic country through programs that foster inclusive and sustainable economic growth, especially in the agriculture and tourism sectors; improve the health of the Timorese people, particularly women and children; and strengthen the foundations of good governance—all areas which are highlighted in Timor-Leste’s Strategic Development Plan 2011-2030.  To learn more, visit: www.usaid.gov/timor-leste.