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Political, economic and trade information

Revitalised bilateral partnership

On 30 July 2018 Australia and Timor-Leste signed a joint communique on a revitalised bilateral partnership. This communique, commits to a new chapter in bilateral relations that will strengthen ties and deepen collaboration between Timor-Leste and Australia. Areas of deepened cooperation include trade, investment and economic links, seasonal workers, maritime security and Timor-Leste's socio-economic development. The revitalised partnership will focus not only on close bilateral cooperation but on working together in the Indo-Pacific region and globally. The ministers committed to regular dialogue between their respective governments, with annual ministerial and officials' talks. As part of a revitalised economic partnership, ministers agreed to continue constructive discussions on the development of the Greater Sunrise resource, noting its importance for Timor-Leste's prosperity.

Timor Sea Maritime Arrangements

The map shows the location of the maritime boundary which is established by the Treaty Between Australia and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste Establishing Their Maritime Boundaries in the Timor Sea signed between our countries on 6 March 2018 in New York.

The Southern boundary is a seabed and water column boundary (from points TA-5 to TA-10). The western segment of the southern boundary line (TA5 to TA-6) runs slightly above the median line, while the eastern segment of the southern boundary (TA-6 to TA-10) runs along the median line.

The eastern and western lateral boundaries are seabed boundaries only (from points TA-1 to TA-5, and TA-10 to TA-13

The Maritime Boundary Treaty is an historic agreement for Australia and Timor-Leste: we settled a long-running dispute, delimited our maritime boundaries, and laid the foundation for a new chapter in our relationship with one of our closest neighbours.

The agreement is a landmark for the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and international law. The conciliation that led to our treaty, under UNCLOS' dispute resolution procedures, was the first of its kind. As two democratic nations and close neighbours, Australia and Timor-Leste have highlighted the value of international law, and particularly UNCLOS, in the international rules-based system. Our joint success through the conciliation sets a positive example for the region and the international community. It highlights Australia commitment to international law as we have set out in the Australian Government 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper.

Supporting the international rules-based order and UNCLOS

The treaty is a testament to the way in which international law, in particular the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, reinforces stability and allows countries to resolve disputes peacefully without coercion. It is an example of the rules-based order in action.

UNCLOS has underpinned stability and security in our region and around the world. In turn, this has allowed for the growth of trade and sustainable development.

With the world's third largest maritime Exclusive Economic Zone, Australia knows how important these rules and norms are. That is why we have steadfastly supported the dispute settlement processes in UNCLOS–regardless of the outcome.

Bilateral relations with Timor-Leste

As Australia's Foreign Policy White Paper highlights, a strong and prosperous Timor-Leste is of fundamental important to Australia. We look forward to partnering with Timor-Leste to develop the Greater Sunrise gas field, with benefits for both countries.

We are Timor-Leste's leading development partner [$91.8 million in estimated total ODA in 2018-19]. We will continue to support Timor-Leste's objective of economic diversification and private sector growth through our development cooperation and labour mobility schemes.

We will continue to support Timor-Leste's armed forces and national police. We cooperate on regional security issues, including maritime challenges, border security and transnational crime. Australia supports Timor-Leste's ambition to join ASEAN, to facilitate its closer economic engagement with Southeast Asia.

The benefits of the maritime boundary treaty

The Treaty establishes permanent maritime boundaries between Australia and Timor-Leste in the Timor Sea and a stable legal framework for resource development. This provides certainty and stability for businesses and investors.

The Treaty provides for both countries to develop the Greater Sunrise gas fields together and share in the benefits. This recognises that both Australia and Timor-Leste have legitimate sovereign rights as coastal states under UNCLOS.

The Treaty will support Timor-Leste's economic development by providing new opportunities for income and commercial and industrial development. Seventy or eighty per cent of revenue from Greater Sunrise will flow to Timor-Leste, depending on how the resource is developed.

The treaty upholds Australia's commitment to international rules and reinforces peaceful dispute resolution norms, especially through the UNCLOS.

Development of Greater Sunrise

The Conciliation Commission worked extensively with the parties to broker a way forward on Greater Sunrise. We look forward to building on the Commission's efforts and analysis and we will continue to discuss the how to develop Greater Sunrise bilaterally. The Conciliation Commission's analysis of the alternative concepts for developing Greater Sunrise is contained in its press release of 6 March 2018.

We recognise the significance of the resource to Timor-Leste's economic future and want to see it developed in a way that maximises the benefits for the Timorese people.

Existing Oil and Gas projects

Oil and gas fields currently shared between Australia and Timor-Leste in the Joint Petroleum Development Area are transitioning to Timor-Leste's exclusive jurisdiction. The Treaty provides that the security of title and any other rights held by the titleholders previously under the Timor Sea Treaty and the International Unitisation Agreement will be preserved through ensuring conditions and terms equivalent.


Media Statements on the Maritime Boundary Treaty

In 2016 Timor-Leste requested a Conciliation Commission under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to conciliate differences with Australia on maritime boundaries in the Timor Sea.

Travel information

Heads of Government

Embassies and consulates




Related Links


Timor-Leste Section
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

  • Address:
    R.G. Casey Building
    John McEwen Crescent
    Barton ACT 0221
  • Telephone: (02) 6261 1111
  • Fax: (02) 6261 1743
Last Updated: 21 August 2019
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