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Laos moves to boost regional trade
Publication Date : 15-10-2013
Laos will continue efforts to better facilitate regional trade under World Trade Organisation (WTO) regulations through a meeting launched this week in Vientiane.
The WTO Trade Facilitation National Self-assessment of Needs and Priorities for Laos meeting kicked off yesterday and will run to Friday, chaired by Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Khemmani Pholsena.
The meeting aims to assess where Laos is at in implementing its trade facilitation agreements and what more needs to be done to ensure the country enjoys maximum benefits.
This week's meeting follows a similar event in 2009. Khemmani said the meeting would improve the capacity of government officials and business representatives to understand trade facilitation, opportunities and priorities now Laos is a WTO member.
The country has already made some progress towards its WTO obligations, including establishing a Trade Facilitation Secretariat, consulting with relevant sectors on challenges faced in trade, and expanding government policy on trade facilitation.
Khemmani said the ministry had also formulated a strategy on trade facilitation for 2011-2015, which the government signed off on last year, and had established an information centre on transparent business operations in Laos.
She said other areas related to trade had also made progress, with the customs sector changing its regulations to better fit international law and using new systems to standardise taxes on goods at international checkpoints.
The customs sector has also launched the national Single Window and has handed over responsibility for food safety and animal and plant health in exported and imported products to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of Health's Food and Drug Department.
Other sectors have improved their regulations to align with international standards and moved to streamline import and export processes.
This week's meeting will focus mainly on three topics – regulations and laws, international checkpoints, and customs management.The meeting was supported by the WTO and World Bank.