LAO PDR (Vientiane Times) - Private sector conditions in Laos are likely to improve following the launch of the New Laos Business Environment Project by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the United States of America.
The project will provide capacity building and advisory services aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of Laos’ small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) while improving the implementation of trade-related laws, policies and regulations.
The project was unveiled on Thursday and attended by the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mrs Khemmani Pholsena, and U.S. Ambassador to Laos Ms Rena Bitter, representatives of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and officials from related sectors.
The five-year project, funded by the United States, through USAID, is the latest partnership between the United States and Laos aimed at supporting private sector competitiveness and facilitating trade. “The launch of the Lao Business Environment Project reinforces our commitment to promote inclusive economic growth and competitiveness through improving the business operating environment and enhancing the productive capacity of SMEs,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mrs Khemmani Pholsena.
The Laos Business Environment project will provide capacity building and advisory services aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of Laos’ small- and medium-sized
enterprises (SMEs) while improving implementation of trade-related laws, policies and regulations.
SMEs make up the majority of firms and are responsible for most private sector employment in Laos. This project will target the industry and service sectors with the highest growth and job creation potential. The United States has a long history of partnering with Laos to accelerate the country’s economic development, including through two previous USAID initiatives called Lao PDRU.S. International and ASEAN Integration (LUNA Laos) and LUNA II.
“This project is yet another example of the excellent partnership between the United States and the Lao PDR on issues of trade and investment,” said Ambassador Bitter. In recent years, the United States has invested a total of more than US$22 million in assistance targeted at bolstering Laos’ economic development and facilitating regional and international trade.
In her opening remarks, Mrs Khemmani Pholsena emphasized, “I strongly support the Laos Business Environment Project’s objective that seeks to strengthen national-level facilitation and continuous improvement of the Lao business environment through a combination of capacity building and targeted advisory services.”
The United States has supported Laos’ from accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2013 to the implementation of the U.S.- Laos Trade and Investment Framework “An agreement was signed in 2017 to bring the highest international standards and practices to Lao business,” Ambassador Bitter said.
In addition to improving the business environment and expanding trade, the United States works in partnership with the government and citizens of Laos to improve the competitiveness of agricultural microenterprises, strengthen the rule of law, promote health and nutrition, support people with disabilities, and improve education.
The country kicked off the Lao Competitiveness and Trade Project, new EIF Tier II project, and extended existing RELATED project as well as launched the ARISE Plus Lao project in September and a new project to promote home textiles was also launched recently.