Lao SMEs seek ways to penetrate foreign markets

LAO PDR (Vientiane Times) - More Lao businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), are set to benefit from attending trade fairs in foreign countries in the near future.

Exhibitors at the 6th Made in Laos Fair attend a seminar at Lao-ITECC last Thursday.

A workshop on the topic was organised at Lao-ITECC in Vientiane last week on the sidelines of the 6th Made in Laos 2019 Fair, which ended yesterday. The event attracted a number of exhibitors and business representatives interested in participating in upcoming overseas trade fairs and exhibitions.

Speaking at the seminar on Thursday, the Vice President of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), Mrs Chanthachone Vongsay, said the seminar would help businesses find foreign markets and take advantage of trade and investment opportunities. “Local entrepreneurs will also need to learn more about the barriers to trade and the regulations associated with foreign markets,” she said.

One of the seminar’s participants and also a guest speaker at the event, the Deputy Managing Director of Burapha Agro-Forestry Company, Ms Souphayvanh Thiengchanhxay, toldVientiane Times that good preparation before attending any trade fair in a foreign country is a priority. “Our company has a lot of experience in attending foreign exhibitions. That is the reason why we wanted to share it with all participants, to explain how to be well prepared,” she said.

Ms Souphayvanh explained that being well prepared for foreign expos is the key to success in seeking foreign markets. “Leaflets, websites and samples of your products are needed to display in your booth, as well as your company’s profile to ensure your new target customers learn about the background of your presence in foreign markets and the quality of the products,” she said. She added that learning about market destinations and the predilections of foreign buyers are key factors for success in securing a segment of market share.

A dealer in tea products from Phongsaly province, Mrs Bouavanh Fongphonsayna, said her main focus at the Made in Laos Fair is to promote tea products from her region. “I don’t expect to sell a large quantity of tea here but this opportunity allows us to display and promote our products among locals and foreigners,” she said. Mrs Bouavanh said she would attend trade fairs in the Republic of Korea and China in the months to come. “I think tea products from Laos are well-known for being chemical-free. This always attract buyers from America, Europe and China, but the problem is that we can’t produce a large quantity of products to fulfil their orders,” she added.

SMEs contribute 16 percent to Gross Domestic Product and also create jobs for local people, according to information provided to the media at the meeting.

The LNCCI and senior trade promotion officials from the SME Promotion Department under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and business advisors were invited to share their experiences with participants.