Lao economy strengthened to integrate in global supply chains
International Trade Centre and Lao PDR trade stakeholders conclude Project Review Committee of ARISE Plus Lao PDR project
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), the International Trade Centre (ITC), and trade-related national stakeholders gathered in Pakse to review progress, challenges and identify actions to further support the integration of the Lao economy in global production chains at a recent meeting, the 7th ASEAN Regional Integration Support from the EU (ARISE Plus Lao PDR) Project Review Committee.
Inaugurated in 2019, the Arise Plus Lao PDR project has been since supporting the country integrate its economy into regional markets and global production chains by helping small and medium-sized enterprises as well as the public sector. In the last Committee meeting in July 2022, the European Union and national stakeholders had acknowledged the project’s effectiveness and awarded a full-year, no-cost extension until December 2023.
In 2022, the project supported 1,125 individuals (365 women) in capacity-building activities. More than 50 government officials were trained on trade-related topics, including trends in Free Trade Agreements and trade in services. Moreover, 12 small businesses joined a coffee auction, eight companies received free business coaching on quality management, and five wood-processing companies were trained on market access, production and access to legal timber.
The action plan for 2023 will focus on completing on-going activities, for example finalizing a trade negotiations toolkit and translating a trade policy guidebook into Lao. Awareness raising and capacity-building activities will continue, particularly on the EU preferential trading schemes/EBA. Quality champions will support small businesses, while the project will continue to support the implementation of coffee and wood-processing roadmaps.
“It is critical that we use the remaining time to implement the roadmaps and specific recommendations derived from numerous analytical works conducted since the project's inception to deliver tangible benefits in terms of market access, trade preferences, and export capacity for the project's target sectors,” said H.E. Manothong Vongxay, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce.
The meeting brought together over 70 stakeholders, project partners and funders. It was chaired by the Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, H.E. Manothong Vongxay, joined by Programme Manager for Trade and Private Sector of the European Union Delegation to Lao PDR, Souphaphone Thavonsouk.
“As we head towards the final year of the project, we're focusing more on results than ever,” added Xuejun Jiang, Chief for Asia and the Pacific, International Trade Centre. “Since our last meeting, the team has worked on multiplying information sharing opportunities, getting more stakeholders involved, and implementing over 30 activities between July and December. We are also very attentive to creating meaningful cooperation opportunities with other key trade-related technical assistance projects, like the ones we're having meetings with here in Champasak.”
The Government of Lao PDR increasingly considers ARISE Plus Lao PDR to be an asset for addressing macroeconomic challenges. Several development partners are seeking to create synergies by organizing consultations.