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Laos proposes regional oil for rice initiative

Publication Date : 18-10-2012


Asian countries should consider setting up a barter trade scheme as part of efforts to secure food and energy supplies in the region, a senior Lao official has said.

Laos Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad placed the proposal while speaking at the first Asian Cooperation Dialogue Summit in Kuwait on Tuesday.

“I believe it would be a good idea to set up a kind of barter trade arrangement whereby we can swap oil for rice and agricultural products both bilaterally and multilaterally.”

Somsavat, who is in charge of economic affairs in Laos, led the Lao delegation attending the summit on behalf of President Choummaly Sayasone.

High level representatives from 32 Asian countries were at the summit to discuss a wide range of economic issues including food and energy security.

Somsavat said the oil for rice scheme would aim to alleviate poverty, mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure sustainable development.

The Asian continent has abundant and diverse potential. Some countries have vast land areas suitable for crop cultivation and livestock breeding while many are endowed with oil and other natural resources, he said.

Laos has untapped agricultural potential because of its large area of arable land. Most of the Lao population also works in the agriculture sector. Economists believe the country's imminent membership in the WTO will boost investment in agriculture, and the Lao government has offered new incentives for investment.

Somsavat also stressed the development potential of Lao hydropower thanks to an abundance of rivers and streams in the country.

“Our government has laid down a sustainable management strategy on water resource utilisation, to generate electricity to meet domestic demand and for export to neighbouring countries,” he said.

According to the ministry of energy and mines, Laos has the potential to build more than 100 hydropower plants with a combined installed capacity of more than 28,000 megawatt.

To ensure energy and food security, Somsavat said Asian countries, in particular oil-exporting nations, should explore strategies on sustainable energy development with a view to assisting countries without oil supplies.

“This is a clear reflection of the Asian Cooperation Dialogue's intention to address poverty, achieve the Millennium Development Goals and deepen our peoples' mutual understanding,” he said.


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