Laos to pursue trade, business environment improvement

The government of Australia will contribute US$2.5 million in additional funding for the ongoing Second Trade Development Facility Project (TDF II), aiming to improve trade and Laos’ business environment.

An official launch ceremony for the additional financing took place yesterday at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce in Vientiane.

The grant is funded by additional financing from Australia through a multi-donor trust which had initial funding of US$14 million, originally received by contributions from the government of Australia, Ireland, the United States, the European Union and Germany as well as the World Bank.

The Second Trade Development Facility Project is being implemented by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce to support the government’s efforts to compete for quality international investors, through further reforms to develop a more business-friendly regulatory environment.

TDF II has been in effect since April 2013 and succeeded the first TDF, active from August 2008 to March 2013.

The new funding will now extend the duration of the second scheme until September 2018.

To date, TDF II has helped improve the regulatory environment governing the movement of goods and selected service sectors, for example, in telecommunications and agriculture trade.

It has supported more than 200 private companies to become more competitive through the Business Assistance Facility, helping to raise income and provide jobs.

The primary objective of TDF II is to support the implementation of the priorities of the 2012 Diagnostic Trade Integration Study Roadmap with a special focus on trade policy, trade facilitation, competitiveness and diversification, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr Somchith Inthamith, said.

The additional support will also help the government as it pursues the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan, which prioritises continued strong economic growth, increased productivity, and widened regional and international integration.

World Bank Country Manager to Laos, Ms Sally L. Burningham, said that strengthening trade and the environment for private sector business is key to sustained and inclusive long-term growth in Laos.

The World Bank was pleased to continue its support for the implementation of TDF II which will help create more and better jobs for people around the country.

Particularly, additional activities will aim to increase the transparency and predictability of obtaining business registration and operating licences.

Australian Ambassador to the Lao PDR, Mr John Williams, said Laos needs to grow its economic sustainably and improve its ranking on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index and that the government’s work to improve the trade environment must be complemented by improvements in the business climate.

He added that as has been Australia’s experience, in a competitive economy, economic success needs to be built on sometimes difficult but necessary reforms to create an open and transparent trade and investment regime and a business-friendly regulatory environment.

Source: http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_Laos61.htm