Nation sets sights on trade policy improvement
Laos will continue to be active in improving its regulations and work plan to adapt to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules after the country became a member in 2013.
Despite Laos' membership status, there are still many issues which need to be improved in order to implement the agreement obligations, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr Somchit Inthamith said at a meeting in Vientiane recently.
He noted that this year marks the fourth anniversary of Laos' ascension to WTO membership.
The meeting aimed to share experiences and discuss the opportunities and challenges after the country became a WTO's member, Mr Somchit said.
The issues discussed included trade facilitation, National Single Window progress, plant hygiene, as well as standardisation and metrology between the government and the business sector.
During 15 years of negotiations for entry to the WTO, Laos reviewed, formulated and improved regulations related with WTO agreement on more than 90 issues, of which 26 issues pertained to laws and 18 issues pertained to decrees, said Mr Somchit.
The government, especially the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, also improved different regulations in order to provide more facilities for business operations and attract investment, he explained.
In the four years since the country became a WTO member, the government has focused on its own obligations and achieved success in many activities such as cancelling reference prices for fuel and vehicles, which shifted to utilising real trading prices, Mr Somchit said.
The ministry also created the Lao Trade Portal website to make it easy for the business sector to access information about rules on trade imports and exports.
In addition, it has formulated official letters to reveal the regulations to WTO members.
The ministry has announced trade policies and rules related to the WTO as well as other activities in relation to trade facilitation and transparency to speed business approval processes.
Improvements to the regulations give investors and businesses more confidence in the country's trade and investment policies, Mr Somchit said.
Currently, there are many major foreign companies which have invested in the country, especially Coca Cola, Canon and AirAsia and Silkair.
The number of goods exports from the country also increased from US$3.2 billion in 2012 to US$4.1 billion in 2015.
At the same time, goods imports rose from US$5.8 billion to US$6.5 billion, Mr Somchit said.
Investment increased from US$294 million in 2012 to US$721 million in 2014.
Laos will continue to implement efforts in regards to trade remedies, issue the rules that relate with import and export rights and announce domestic assistance for agricultural products as well as participate in the Doha negotiations.
In 2019, Laos will also review its trade policy, which will include policy assessment and implementation in regards to the trade systems.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update February 13, 2017)