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More measures needed to check farm imports

The business sector and agricultural promoters have urged Lao authorities to increase measures to check the import of farm products through border crossings.
Scattered imports through this channel are considered an obstacle to attracting investment and growth of the sector in the country. Vice President of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Daovon Phachanthavong, said on Wednesday “The public sector must pay attention to managing imports.”
The business sector is very concerned about this issue and has urged customs authorities to increase measures to check such imports and ensure the country gets more advantages in terms of revenue collection at the borders and production promotion for commercial purposes. He said it is impossible to implement a 100 percent import ban, but the authorities must seek mechanisms to limit imports of farm products through higher taxes.
At the end of last month, members of the chamber met customs authorities to seek solutions that would also facilitate business. One of the topics discussed at the meeting was the import of farm products through border crossings. The business sector called on authorities to control this because it impacts domestic entrepreneurs.
Laos shares borders with five countries - Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Almost all the consumer products sold in Lao markets are imported from these countries. Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese products have a sizeable presence in Lao markets. The growth of the domestic agricultural sector will provide greater benefits for the economy and the tourism industry. It will directly attract foreign currency into the country as tourists could purchase products made by local farms.    
Local people and authorities must help the public sector to monitor scattered imports, but it is hard to have such measures, Mr Daovon said. “It is correct to import products through border crossings, but illegal goods are still being brought in via this channel,” he said.
He added that investors have shown interest in farm projects in Laos, but some of them worry about people who illegally import farm products. They are also concerned about markets. “Laos does not have many supermarkets. Having such markets will make it easier for the State to manage the sources of goods and revenue collection will be easier,” he said. Deputy Director of the Vientiane Agriculture and Forestry Department, Mr Keson Thepkhamheuang, said the scattered import of farm products impacts the promotion of domestic goods.
“Border crossings do not check for problems such as insects and diseases in  plants. Actually, border crossings should be used by local people to travel to neighbouring countries and bring a few products for personal consumption only, but in reality, this isn’t the case,” he said. The crossings have become places for importing farm products that are cheaper because production overseas is on a larger scale and it is an industry, he added.  
Mr Keson urged district authorities to help manage imports for commercial purposes, which should be done only through international checkpoints. Customs authorities have amended a regulation on imports, allowing importers to bring in goods via border crossings across the country. The reason is that they want to increase revenue collections.  


By Times Reporters
(Latest Update
May 18,
2018


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