European Union backs Lao export competitiveness, job creation with 5 million Euros

LAO PDR (Vientiane Times) - The European Union (EU) has provided more than 48 billion kip (5 million euros) to help spur growth in trade and investment through the ASEAN Regional Integration Support Laos Trade Related Assistance (ARISE Plus Laos) initiative.

Participants gather during the event in Vientiane on Monday. --Photo the European Union

The launch of ARISE Plus Laos was held in Vientiane in conjunction with the official visit to Laos by European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Mr Neven Mimica, and the Executive Director of the International Trade Centre, Mrs Arancha González. The event was hosted by the Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mr Somchith Inthamith, and Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Kikeo Chanthaboury.

This four year action plan will be implemented in partnership with the Ministries of Industry and Commerce and Agriculture and Forestry and the International Trade Centre, and aims to stimulate inclusive economic growth and job creation, and strengthen climate change resilience.

The project seeks to boost Laos’ export competitiveness and integration in regional and global value chains by promoting trade and tapping into the potential of two selected sectors in particular wood processing and speciality agriculture. It will enable small and medium-sized enterprises in Laos to increase their export knowledge, including on how to trade better and more with partners in the EU.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr Somchith Inthamith, said, “The launch of the ARISE Plus Laos Project reinforces our commitment to promote inclusive economic growth and competitiveness through improving the sector specific business environment and developing the productive capacity of selected sectors with export potential. I strongly support the ARISE Plus Laos Project’s objective that focuses on improving the business environment in specific sectors and increasing trade and participation of Lao enterprises in global and regional value chains by developing productive capacity, addressing supply side constraints, and enhancing firm level competitiveness.”.

The EU, currently Laos’s fourth largest trading partner, wants to support the country in taking better advantage of its membership of the World Trade Organisation and reap the benefits of greater access to global markets, according to the EU.

The EU also wants to step up assistance to Laos to strengthen its economic integration into ASEAN. In particular, the goal is to ensure that Laos is better enabled to take advantage of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), which seeks to achieve free flow of goods across the region, and other commitments under the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025, aiming to create an integrated economic zone among member states.

ARISE Plus Laos is the four year national Lao component of the regional ARISE Plus programme that contributes to the integration of the Lao economy into global production chains through targeted support to both public and private sectors, with a focus on smallholders and SMEs with a total budget of more than 5 million euros, according to the EU.

The objective is to promote inclusive economic growth, increased climate change resilience, mitigation of vulnerability, especially due to dependence on a limited number of sectors and markets, and job creation in Laos, as well as to improve the business environment in targeted areas with a focus on regional economic integration (ASEAN) and to increase trade and participation in global value chains in targeted sectors.