Laos plans regulatory reforms to boost trade at border crossings

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The Ministry of Industry and Commerce will continue efforts to improve or remove unnecessary measures and regulations relating to exports and imports to bolster cross-border trade.

Officials in charge of trade facilitation met in Vientiane last week for the 2nd Trade Facilitation Committee Secretariat meeting to evaluate past achievements through regulatory reforms. The meeting also highlighted the progress made by the committee.

Another important objective of the meeting was to discuss the plan for implementing facilitation for cross-border trade from 2017-22 in line with Prime Ministerial Order No. 2. The meeting also discussed other issues in the draft of the prime ministerial order.

In his opening remarks, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mr Bounmy Manivong, said the ministry had been tasked by the government to take responsibility for cross-border trade, the 8th indicator out of 10 measured by the World Bank’s ease of doing business index.

“The progress made in implementing the prime minister’s order on upgrading procedures and coordinated mechanisms among state departments to improve the business environment is improved but Laos still needs to have a better ranking,” he said.

As part of the government’s efforts to improve the business environment, it is expected to streamline and speed up the processing of documents, and lower the fees charged for the paperwork required for imports and exports by at least 50 percent this year.

“Laos’ cross-border trade was ranked impressively this year, as it jumped from a ranking of 124th in 2018 to 76th this year, achieving 39 percent out of 50 percent of the plan,” Mr Bounmy said.

At the same meeting, a representative from the World Bank, Mr Mombert Hoppe, presented the findings of a study on the impact of the proposed Laos-China railway on Laos’ economic development.

“The Laos-China railway will not only connect Laos and China, but all railways are connected globally through the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said.

Mr Hoppe said Laos can maximise the benefits of the railway when the government improves the management of trade facilitation and logistics.

“On the other hand, if the Lao government is unable to work on any reforms of various essential factors, it will only gain the smallest benefits,” he said.

Among the important factors, the improvement of major national roads linked to railway stations will increase the number of passenger and cargo services, he suggested.

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