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Our relationship with Timor-Leste

New Zealand has a warm relationship with Timor-Leste. We made a significant defence and security contribution to Timor-Leste’s establishment as a new nation from 1999 to 2002, and following the internal conflict of 2006. As the security situation has improved, our military and police are less involved and the focus has turned to supporting Timor-Leste’s growth into a stable, democratic and prosperous nation. During a visit to New Zealand led by Timor-Leste's Prime Minister in 2017, Timor-Leste's Foreign Minister decribed New Zealand as a "shareholder in our independence."

Our relationship includes a programme of development assistance and emerging two-way trade and economic links. We encourage New Zealand businesses to pursue opportunities in Timor-Leste, and support Timor-Leste to identify and develop economically sustainable industries in sectors where it has competitive advantage. Timor-Leste is increasing its own engagement in New Zealand and opened an embassy in Wellington in 2014.

Timor-Leste strongly supported New Zealand's successful campaign for an elected seat on the UN Security Council (2015-2016) and is a respected voice for post-conflict states in the multilateral arena. The country has applied for ASEAN membership and a committee has been established to consider this application. In 2013 Timor-Leste also formally declared its wish to join the Commonwealth.

Defence and policing

Following the 1999 referendum that led to the restoration of independence, New Zealand Defence and Police personnel were deployed to Timor Leste in significant numbers. Since the withdrawal of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) in December 2012 and the withdrawal of the International Stabilization Force (ISF) in March 2013, our Defence and Police presence has reduced significantly.

Two NZDF personnel are deployed with the Falintil-Forças de Defesa de Timor-leste (F-FDTL, Timor-Leste Defence Force) providing strategic and logistics advice to the Timorese military. Two police officers based there long-term under the bilateral Timor-Leste Community Policing Programme, and police mentors from New Zealand visit Timor-Leste several times a year.


2016 statistics

Total trade in goods 

$3 million


Exports to Timor-Leste

$2.7 million 

Top exports: meat, motor vehicles, cheese

Imports from Timor-Leste

$0.3 million

Top imports: coffee, computers, woven flax fabrics


US$3.1 billion

GDP per capita US$2,583 (NZ GDP per capita is US$38,345)
GDP growth 1.0%  


The New Zealand Aid Programme works with Timor-Leste to support the development of a sustainable and growing economy. Together we're focused on private sector development, education and training, and security and justice.

Find out more about our aid programme in Timor-Leste


  • New Zealand is represented in Timor-Leste by the New Zealand Embassy, Dili
  • Timor-Leste is represented in New Zealand by the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Welington 

Recent official visits

New Zealand to Timor-Leste
  • May 2017: Minister for Maori Development Te Ururoa Flavell attended the Timor-Leste Presidential Inauguration and independence celebrations.
  • 2014: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully attended the summit of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries
  • 2012: Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully visited with a trade delegation
Timor-Leste to New Zealand
  • February 2017: Prime Minister HE Dr Rui Maria de Araujo visited New Zealand, accompanied by Foreign Minister Hernani Coelho and Interior Minister Longuinhos Monteiro
  • March 2016: Visit to New Zealand by the Prime Minister’s Fellow for Timor-Leste, Former President and Prime Minister HE Jose Ramos-Horta
  • May 2015: Visit to New Zealand by Foreign Minister Hernani Coelho

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