Asian Journal of Environment and Disaster Management (AJEDM)

Volume 5 Number 4 (2013)

doi: 10.3850/S1793924013000102

Can Timor-Leste Escape the Resource Curse?

Miko Maekawa1 and Atsuko Kamioka2
1Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University, 8-8-1, Ao-Matani Higashi, Minoh City, Osaka 562-0022, Japan.
2Department of International Studies, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 5-1-1 Kashiwanoha Kashiwa, Chiba 277-8563, Japan.


The aim of this research is to examine how a decade old country, Timor-Leste, can use its rich natural resources in oil and gas to profit, as much as possible, its own people. Almost 90% of Timor-Leste’s gross domestic product (GDP) is dependent on the income generated from oil and gas. The economy’s heavy reliance on non-renewable resources and relatively weak nonoil sectors raise the concern of the country becoming trapped in a so-called ‘resource curse’. This research will focus on the issues of transparency, ownership and fairness, with respect to the government of Timor-Leste. The unique situations of Timor-Leste will be the subject of analysis in terms of its legacy and potential as a post-conflict country. A comparison will be made with another island country in the Pacific that is heavily reliant on mineral resources, Nauru. Lessons from the situation in Nauru will be presented to help Timor-Leste prioritize its policy issues in order to overcome the challenges often discussed in the resource curse discourse. Timor-Leste has the potential to effectively use its natural resources to alleviate poverty, to promote growth, and to improve its governance.

Keywords: Resource curse, Timor-Leste, Nauru.

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