Laos, partners discuss the benefits of new infrastructure for the private sector

LAO PDR (Vientiane Times) - Representatives of the government, the private sector and international organizations met in Vientiane yesterday to discuss the ways in which ongoing large-scale infrastructure projects can spur development of the private sector.

The co-chairs of the Trade and Private Sector Working Group Meeting in Vientiane yesterday.

The annual policy dialogue platform between the government and development partners was co-chaired by the Minister of Industry and Commerce Mrs. Khemmani Pholsena, Ambassador of the European Union to Laos, Mr. Leo Faber, and the Australian Ambassador to Laos, Mr. Jean-Bernard Carrasco.

The meeting was attended by over 100 participants. Participants discussed opportunities and challenges emerging from ongoing and planned mega infrastructure projects, especially the benefits of the Laos-China railway for private sector development.

The meeting also reviewed progress on addressing specific issues concerning the government’s business environment reform program. “While there is a broad agreement that no country has sustained rapid growth without also keeping up impressive rates of public investment - in infrastructure, education, and health - we should focus our discussions on how we can maximize public spending on infrastructure to crowd in private investment and expand investment opportunities and raise the return to private investment, as well as pave the way for new industries to emerge, which is also a crucial aid to structural transformation and export diversification,” Mrs Khemmani said.

At the meeting, participants discussed necessary policy-based reform measures to ensure the maximum impact of increased investment in transport infrastructure on the national economic diversification policy.

Meeting participants also exchanged views on the progress of key business enabling environment reform initiatives and reached a broad consensus on the practical next steps to accelerate the reform process.

At the end of the meeting, Mrs. Khemmani stressed the importance of pursuing complementary logistics and trade facilitation reforms, including simplification of border procedures and developing an effective transit regime along with making a significant investment in transport infrastructure such as the railway to ensure full economic benefits.

The Trade and Private Sector Working Group Meeting is one of 10 sector working groups under the round table meeting process and is the main forum for policy dialogue between the Lao government and development partners.

Participants of the forum usually come from government, development partners, the private sector and civil society. The other nine sector working groups include health, education, governance, macroeconomics, infrastructure, illicit drug control, UXO, agriculture and rural development, as well as natural resources and environmental management.