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Local SMEs urged to produce premium goods for int’l markets

Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) in Laos have to strengthen their capacity to produce premium goods for the international market as  their only realistic option, according to an official from International Trade Centre (ITC).  
“Laos cannot do a big volume at low prices. This is not the game for Laos. Laos has to do small volume with high prices,” ITC Executive Director, Ms Arancha González told Vientiane Times  in an exclusive interview on September 9 .

“The issue for Lao products is that this country is landlocked. Logistics is difficult. Therefore, we need to invest in premium products.” 
Ms González was speaking at Crowne Plaza Vientiane Hotel after attending the official launch of ARISE PLUS-Lao PDR; one of the international aid projects being delivered by the ITC, European Union and Lao government.
The 5 million euro aid project running until 2023 will help strengthen SMEs’ export competitiveness, with the expectation that sector growth will significantly contribute to job creation and poverty reduction. 
To increase the export competitiveness of local SMEs, Ms González said one of the key aims of the project intervention was to help these businesses produce premium products for the international market and tourism industry.
Laos had massive potential for high quality agricultural produce thanks to its vast expanses of fertile land, she said, adding the ARISE PLUS-Lao PDR project would help local SMEs to produce clean agriculture produce for international markets to strengthen the sector.
Laos can export agricultural produce to Japan, South Korea and European Union markets. However, the product must meet the stringent requirements of these high purchasing power markets. 
“The project will help with the certification of the Lao agricultural produce,” Ms González said, adding that with this accreditation, Lao produce could enjoy access to these international markets.
The ARISE PLUS-Lao PDR project intervention would also help local SMEs identify their business opportunities and challenges. For example, they can enjoy privileged access to the European Union market, which offers low import tariffs on goods from least developed nations.
“The project will do campaigning among Lao SMEs so they will become aware of the business opportunities,” she said.
Nevertheless, she noted future challenges for the local business community who must prepare for stiffer competition after Laos graduates from the list of least developed nations.
Lao producers would then no longer enjoy privileged access to these markets. Therefore, local businesses needed to prepare for this challenge, she added. 
A part of these activities, the ARISE PLUS-Lao PDR would help the nation to simplify customs procedures as well as encourage young entrepreneurs to explore international market opportunities, according to Ms González. 


By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update September 16, 2019)

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