The Voice of an Exporter – Raflima’s Almerio Moniz
Exports are of growing significance in Timor-Leste. The government, the development community, and businesses across the country all know this. It’s one way Timor-Leste is really going to start earning money. Money not dependent on oil or aid.
So how easy is it to export goods abroad for a Timorese business? To find out, I first wanted to get a sense of how many businesses were actually able to export. I found my answer by looking at Peace Dividend Trust’s Web Portal of over 3,000 businesses. Out of all of these, only 97 businesses responded that they had the capability to export. The numbers don’t suggest it’s as easy as it could be.
Peace Dividend Trust’s cross border event held last year cemented this same idea. Another, perhaps more “in the field”, perspective on the subject comes from a manager of the cattle exporter Raflima. The company has an impressive exportation resume, completing nine cattle exportation deals worth almost $600,000 with the assistance of PDT’s matchmaking staff in Cova Lima. That’s approximately 1,500 cows shipped across the border over the course of the Raflima – PDT collaboration.
During my trip to Cova Lima in December of last year, I met with Mr. Almerio Moniz, one of Raflima’s assistant managers. Se karik ita hatene Tetum, hare to’ok.
According to Mr. Moniz, the logistics of exporting can be easy. Dealing with the Indonesian buyers is generally straightforward work. Finding enough cows to put an order together can be tough, but that’s how our matchmaking district representatives come in handy. It’s unsurprisingly the red tape that gets things held up. And in business, wasted time is wasted money.
In this case, it was the unstamped exportation license that caused the holdup. It was unclear to Mr. Moniz why the national government was unable to issue the stamp, but it put a freeze on all of Raflima’s exports for at least four months. Now, two months after my interview the license is being processed in Jakarta, Indonesia. For now, the grounds still sit empty as the company waits. For how long? Who knows.
Transactions in Cova Lima worth on average $60,000, as you might guess, can generate a substantial number of jobs and high income for individual cattle suppliers sourced through PDT, so it’s a shame when everything is put on hold. Especially because a bit of red tape.