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Knocking at the door

East Timor will have to bide its time for accession to Asean, as its request to join the ten-member bloc will not be on the table at this month’s 21st Asean Summit in Phnom Penh.

Next step: East Timor's President Jose Maria Vasconcelos, popularly known by his nom de guerre, Taur Matan Ruak
Next step: East Timor’s President Jose Maria Vasconcelos, popularly known by his nom de guerre, Taur Matan Ruak

Asia’s youngest nation first sought membership in 2007, but the formal application was only submitted to the regional grouping in March last year. However, Asean leaders say the group needs more time to study the advantages and disadvantages of East Timor’s accession.
While Indonesia reaffirmed its support for East Timor’s bid in September, the region’s poorest country must still convince other nations that its membership will not upset the bloc’s ambitions to form an economic community by the end of 2015. With a population of just 1.1 million, East Timor’s GDP is just over $1 billion, a figure dwarfed by the region’s largest country, Indonesia, which has a GDP of $846.83 billion. East Timor’s government predominantly relies on oil and gas resources to finance its budget.
If East Timor’s bid for acceptance into the bloc is successful, it will become Asean’s 11th member.

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