Heineken as the first international brewing group officially inaugurated today its first plant in East Timor, a country which gained independence as late as 2002.
The brewery and soft drink plant is located close to East Timor’s capital Dili and costed in total $38 million (€32m). Construction work started in December 2015. The plant will produce 300,000 hl annually, much less than Heineken’s average plants. However, Heineken expects to profit from the young and fast growing population in East Timor. Roughly half of the country's 1.2 million inhabitants are 15 years old or younger.
East Timor, which is also called Timor-Leste, was colonized by Portugal in the 16th century, and was known as Portuguese Timor until 28 November 1975, when the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin) declared the territory's independence. Nine days later, it was invaded and occupied by Indonesia and was declared Indonesia's 27th province the following year. In 1999, following the United Nations-sponsored act of self-determination, Indonesia relinquished control of the territory. East Timor became the first new sovereign state of the 21st century on 20 May 2002 and joined the United Nations and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.
Frans Eusman, president of Heineken Asia-Pacific, said he was "proud to be able to join Timor-Leste to the list of countries where the brand is present.” And he added: “We are impressed by the political maturity and economic development of the country. We are sure that in the future the situation will improve even more. We believe in Timor-Leste's long-term potential and are committed to building a good relationship in the future. "
Vinay Mathur, Managing Director of Heineken Timor-Leste, said the project is an "encouraging sign for private sector investment and for the country's development," helping to strengthen the national economic sector. "Our investment and the opening of the manufacturing plant shows international investors that Timor-Leste is open and ready to receive foreign investment, and there is no better time to invest," Mathur said.