TimorLeste Economy - 2021


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Economic overview

Since independence in 1999, Timor-Leste has faced great challenges in rebuilding its infrastructure, strengthening the civil administration, and generating jobs for young people entering the work force. The development of offshore oil and gas resources has greatly supplemented government revenues. This technology-intensive industry, however, has done little to create jobs in part because there are no production facilities in Timor-Leste. Gas is currently piped to Australia for processing, but Timor-Leste has expressed interest in developing a domestic processing capability.

In June 2005, the National Parliament unanimously approved the creation of the Timor-Leste Petroleum Fund to serve as a repository for all petroleum revenues and to preserve the value of Timor-Leste's petroleum wealth for future generations. The Fund held assets of $16 billion, as of mid-2016. Oil accounts for over 90% of government revenues, and the drop in the price of oil in 2014-16 has led to concerns about the long-term sustainability of government spending. Timor-Leste compensated for the decline in price by exporting more oil. The Ministry of Finance maintains that the Petroleum Fund is sufficient to sustain government operations for the foreseeable future.

Annual government budget expenditures increased markedly between 2009 and 2012 but dropped significantly through 2016. Historically, the government failed to spend as much as its budget allowed. The government has focused significant resources on basic infrastructure, including electricity and roads, but limited experience in procurement and infrastructure building has hampered these projects. The underlying economic policy challenge the country faces remains how best to use oil-and-gas wealth to lift the non-oil economy onto a higher growth path and to reduce poverty.

Real GDP growth rate

-4.6% (2017 est.)

5.3% (2016 est.)

4% (2015 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

0.6% (2017 est.)

-1.3% (2016 est.)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$4.593 billion (2019 est.)

$3.869 billion (2018 est.)

$3.91 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)

$2.775 billion (2017 est.)

note: non-oil GDP

Real GDP per capita

$3,553 (2019 est.)

$3,052 (2018 est.)

$3,145 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Gross national saving

28.6% of GDP (2019 est.)

14.2% of GDP (2018 est.)

20.5% of GDP (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 9.1% (2017 est.)

industry: 56.7% (2017 est.)

services: 34.4% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 33% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 30% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 10.6% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 78.4% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -52% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 39.4 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 89.4 (2020)

Trading score: 69.9 (2020)

Enforcement score: 6.1 (2020)

Agricultural products

rice, maize, vegetables, coffee, roots/tubers nes, other meats, cassava, pork, beans, mangoes/guavas


printing, soap manufacturing, handicrafts, woven cloth

Industrial production growth rate

2% (2017 est.)

Labor force

286,700 (2016 est.)

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 41%

industry: 13%

services: 45.1% (2013)

Unemployment rate

4.4% (2014 est.)

3.9% (2010 est.)

Population below poverty line

41.8% (2014 est.)

Gini Index coefficient - distribution of family income

28.7 (2014 est.)

38 (2002 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 4%

highest 10%: 27% (2007)


revenues: 300 million (2017 est.)

expenditures: 2.4 billion (2017 est.)

Taxes and other revenues

10.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)

-75.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)

Public debt

3.8% of GDP (2017 est.)

3.1% of GDP (2016 est.)

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$284 million (2017 est.)

-$544 million (2016 est.)


$16.7 million (2017 est.)

$18 million (2015 est.)

Exports - partners

Singapore 51%, China 20%, Japan 9%, Indonesia 6% (2019)

Exports - commodities

crude petroleum, natural gas, coffee, various vegetables, scrap iron (2019)


$681.2 million (2017 est.)

$558.6 million (2016 est.)

Imports - partners

Indonesia 39%, China 27%, Singapore 10%, Malaysia 5% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, cars, cement, delivery trucks, motorcycles (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$544.4 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$437.8 million (31 December 2015 est.)

note: excludes assets of approximately $9.7 billion in the Petroleum Fund (31 December 2010)

Debt - external

$311.5 million (31 December 2014 est.)

$687 million (31 December 2013 est.)

Exchange rates

the US dollar is used

NOTE: The information regarding TimorLeste on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of TimorLeste 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about TimorLeste 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.