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US demands clearer intellectual property law in Laos

Publication Date : 08-08-2012


Laos is speeding up the definition of some articles of the intellectual property law, with the US demanding effective enforcement of the law before the country can become a World Trade Organisation (WTO) member at the end of this year.

“We are speeding up the development of the regulations to make the Law on Intellectual Property clearer. The higher authorities want us to finish the work this month,” Intellectual Property Department Director General, Sitha Phouyavong told Vientiane Times on Monday.

The National Assembly has approved the amended Law on Intellectual Property in 2011 and the President promulgated it in early 2012.

Despite the fact that the US has voted for Laos to become a WTO member, it is still demanding the country to make the law on intellectual property clearer so as that it is easier for the relevant officials to enforce.

Traditionally, Lao laws which are promulgated will not be effectively enforced until the Prime Minister issues a decree, which provides officials with guidelines on how to put the law into practice. Currently, some of the articles are too general for the officials to make definitive decisions in relation to the law.

Sitha said that the department officials were working very hard to set up regulations to more clearly define articles of the law, as it is one of the main obligations Laos has before it can become a WTO member at the end of this year.

The Lao government hopes that the country will be accepted as a WTO member before hosting the 9th Asia-Europe Summit and related business forum, which are scheduled to be held in Vientiane in November, in order to attract more foreign investment and boost economic growth and job creation.

Despite the fact that Laos has an abundance of natural resources, the country cannot attract sufficient foreign investment, particularly when it comes to the manufacturing of agricultural goods because the country doesn't have free access to WTO member markets.

International Trade Policy Department Director General, Bounsom Phommavihane told Vientiane Times that Laos would be able to improve its laws in relation to intellectual property before it joins the WTO at the end of this year.

“Where we are now is that our house building has been done but there are a few little bits of work still remaining to be completed,” he said as he attempted to give journalists a clearer picture of Laos' progress towards receiving WTO membership.

Bounsom said that the government doesn't expect to face any serious obstacles on the road to becoming a WTO member, as all of the nine negotiators including the Ukraine and the US have given Laos support to join the global trade body.

According to ministry of industry and commerce, it will host a public forum to disseminate information on Lao WTO membership, and the opportunities and challenges which will emerge after the country is accepted as a WTO member.

According to a recent survey, most Lao businesses were not aware of Laos's bid to become a WTO member.


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