The annual 2015 Timor-Leste and Development Partners’ Meeting took place in Dili capital on June 6 focusing on institutional consolidation towards integrating and participating into ASEAN.

Speaking at the event, Timor-Leste Prime Minister Rui Maria de Araujo said that improving institutions towards integration into ASEAN and the international economy is a top priority in Timor-Leste’s development strategy.

He told participants that the country’s 2011-2030 Development Strategy, which was built at the 2011 meeting, set a target of becoming a middle-income nation with health and education systems meeting people’s demands. The strategy was based on four pillars of social development, infrastructure upgrading, economic growth and management capacity strengthening.

The Government leader thanked support from development partners, especially those from the Southeast Asian region, affirming that intensifying dialogue is significant to help the country achieve these targets.

According to a World Bank report, Timor-Leste’s economic growth is forecast to reach 6.9 percent in 2015, lower than the two-digit growth rates in the previous years. Economists said that the decrease is due to the country’s dependence on oil and gas exports.

Meanwhile, oil reserves at the Bayu Udan oil field, which contributes up to 95 percent of the country’s oil and gas revenue, is predicted to become exhausted in 2021, four years earlier than scheduled.

Therefore, development partners suggested the tiny Southeast Asian country to swiftly diversify its economy, and call for investments in agricultural and industrial production, services and tourism.

This year’s event attracted the participation of representatives from nearly 20 development partners, including the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and several ASEAN nations, and international organisations like the United Nations and the World Bank.-VNA