Laos, US celebrate 5-year cooperation on trade facilitation, economic integration

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Laos and the US celebrated the successful completion of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) LUNA II project to boost Lao trade facilitation and economic integration at a ceremony in Vientiane on Friday.

The event, co-chaired by Minister of Industry and Commerce, Ms Khemmani Pholsena and US Ambassador to Laos, Ms Rena Bitter, highlighted USAID LUNA II’s achievements over the project’s five years of implementation.

More than 50 representatives from the Lao government, US Embassy, and the private sector attended the celebration.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ms Khemmani said the Ministry of Industry and Commerce has been working closely with other ministries to comply with the nation’s commitments under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by promulgating and amending legislation and and improving transparencies.  This is in order to create a better business-conducive environment which will attract foreign investors.

In her address, she noted the achievements of the $8.95 million five-year project which will officially end on March 31.

“I strongly believe that all this assistance will improve economic governance and rule of law.  It will lay the foundation for a modern market economy and instigate reforms that will stimulate job creation,” she said.

The aim of USAID LUNA II has been to help Laos comply with its trade commitments under the WTO such as on intellectual property as well as enhance its integration into the Asean Economic Community.

Since 2014, USAID LUNA II has worked closely with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and other Lao ministries to amend laws on intellectual property and trade remedies, support digital connectivity and market access for Lao entrepreneurs, and improve public awareness of consumer protections and general legislation.

The project has been cooperating with the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) under the Ministry of Science and Technology on helping the country align its IP rules with international best standards.

Although the USAID LUNA II project ends this month, the relationship of economic cooperation between the Lao and US governments will continue. 

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