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Lao agribusiness eyes regional integration
Publication Date : 09-09-2013
The commerce and industry sector is urging agri-businesses to improve their products to boost exports and take advantage of international integration.
Laos became a member of the World Trade Organisation this ye ar and will become part of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. This means every business must develop its products, innovate, and adapt to new technology to stand up to international competition.
With support from the International Trade Centre and the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) in cooperation with Champassak provincial Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a workshop was held in Champassak last week to discuss Laos' export potential in light of regional integration and the country's newly acquired WTO membership.
The workshop was attended by LNCCI Vice President, Oudeth Souvannavong, along with business operators from the government and private sectors working in seven provinces.
Through the workshop, participants learnt more about agricultural exports, especially Laos' obligations, agreements, opportunities and challenges after becoming a WTO member and with regard to the AEC.
President of the Champassak provincial Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Chinda Vongsouli, said the consultation and discussion was useful for the development of agricultural products in order to integrate with the international market.
“It is essential that we increase our understanding of business operations to adapt to WTO and AEC agreements, and to realise how we can benefit from international trade,” he said.
Existing contract farming arrangements for agricultural production between Champassak province and Thailand will be expanded to wider export markets in the region and internationally, Chinda said.
“We also need to learn how to improve product quality and boost the capacity of Laos in competing with countries that have similar kinds of agricultural products,” he added.
The workshop enabled government and private business operators to share their experiences in agricultural product development and export promotion, with a view to providing greater income potential for farmers.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry works as a coordinator between business operators and producers, helping them to understand the regulations, opportunities and challenges, Chinda said.
The WTO and the AEC will offer export potential for Lao products such as coffee, green beans, soybeans, rubber, sweetcorn, rice, bananas and tea, said the Champassak provincial Administration Office Deputy Head, Khamdaeng Phommaphakdy.
To achieve the targets, all parties should seek ways to best utilise resources and obtain funding assistance from overseas, he added.
The agriculture sector has strong development potential but business operators and producers have not yet strengthened their operations and lack planning and marketing skills, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry official observed.