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Asean chairmanship puts spotlight on Laos

Laos is in the spotlight of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), with less than two months to go for the country to assume the chairmanship of the regional bloc amid a range of global challenges.

Mr Saleamxay Kommasith (right) at the launch of the official website of Laos’ Asean chairmanship in 2024.       --Photo KPL

The Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Mr Saleamxay Kommasith, recently highlighted opportunities and challenges for Laos in leading the regional grouping. Laos is set to promote community building and enhance cooperation on Asean connectivity and resilience during its term as chair.
“The global situation now and in 2024 will be so different from that in 2016, when Laos assumed the Asean chair for the second time,” Mr Saleamxay told a news conference last week.
“We are living in an era of geopolitical and geo-economic rivalry and Asean is no exception, as it has been affected by situations across the world.”
The conflicts in the Middle East and in Ukraine, the Myanmar issue, and the situation in the South China Sea and the Korean peninsula have all affected Asean as a whole.
“More challenges have been added in front of us. These are challenges we foresee under the chairmanship of Laos,” he said.
Southeast Asia is a dynamic region with rapid growth that has also become a centre of strategic rivalry.
All eyes will be on how Vientiane represents and leads Asean in dealing with all these challenges. “On top of that, the economic situation does not look promising. We can see an economic downturn across the world. This is another challenge facing Asean under the chairmanship of Laos,” Mr Saleamxay said. 
However, the Deputy Prime Minister believes that with the unity and support of all Asean member countries, dialogue partners and other external partners, Laos’ chairmanship will be successful and Asean as a whole will overcome all these challenges.
Mr Saleamxay highlighted a number of opportunities that will open up for Laos when the country commences its Asean chairmanship on January 1, 2024.    
Laos will become the chair of the regional bloc at a time when the Visit Laos Year 2024 tourism promotion campaign will also be rolled out. This will be a huge opportunity for Laos to highlight its tourism industry and the country’s lifestyle and cultural attractions, in a bid to attract more visitors.
The Asean chairmanship will be an opportunity for Laos to enhance the country profile and play the role of leading the regional bloc in the international arena and to promote community building, and Asean connectivity and resilience under the theme of “Asean: Enhancing Connectivity and Resilience”.
Mr Saleamxay said: “Assuming Asean chairmanship will provide an opportunity for us to publicise our foreign policy and the policy relating to economic cooperation between Laos and other countries.”
During its chairmanship of Asean next year, Laos will play a leading role in representing Asean in the regional and international arenas and contributing to Asean community building and publicising the grouping’s vision. Since Laos became a member of Asean in 1997, the country has played an active role in the bloc’s affairs in the political, economic and socio-cultural spheres, and also contributed to promoting regional stability and security.
Lao government officials have benefited from experiences gained when Laos previously assumed the chairmanship of Asean in 2004 and 2016.


BySomsack Pongkhao
 (Latest Update November 21, 2023)

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