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Hillary Clinton Visits East Timor Coffee Cooperative

East Timor coffee farmer

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton toured a coffee cooperative in East Timor today, Sept. 6, hoping to help the independent country find ways bolster its economy.

The small Southeast Asian island country remains one of Asia’s least developed since establishing independence 10 years ago after decades of civil war during Indonesian occupation. Clinton is the first Secretary of State to have visited the country.

While much of Clinton’s visit was related to peacekeeping efforts, the local economy was also a focus. Coffee is the country’s second largest export, behind oil and gas, generating some $10 million last year. Here Bloomberg Businessweek highlights Clinton’s visit to the Cooperativa Cafe Timor:

Clinton highlighted initiatives to boost private industry with a visit to an organic coffee cooperative founded in 1992 with USAID support. Now, Cooperativa Cafe Timor is a self- sustaining business that employs 4,000 workers during the harvest season and has 23,000 farmer-members, making it the largest private employer in East Timor, cooperative officials said.

Clinton toured a coffee bean processing plant in Dili that employs 300 workers, 85 percent of whom are women, cooperative officials said. The employees are paid $8 a day — twice the minimum wage, officials said.

The jute bags stuffed with coffee beans had address labels routing them to Starbucks Corp. in Seattle, the cooperative’s largest buyer. Clinton sampled the strong coffee, declaring it “fabulous.”

The full story: Bloomberg Businessweek


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