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Australia Supports Lao Business Reform

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Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Mr Steven Ciobo has announced an additional AUD$4.1 million (almost 25 billion kip) of Australian assistance to help improve the business environment in Laos.

Australian support will help Laos open up important sectors of the economy, reduce non-tariff measures, streamline business registration processes and strengthen private sector dialogue with the government, including through a revitalised Lao Business Forum, Mr Ciobo said.

“It is no accident Australia and Laos have worked closely together on trade policy over the last decade. Our domestic markets are too small to sustain the growth to which we aspire – we both need to access the wealth of capital, partners, customers, goods and services beyond our borders,” he said.

Mr Ciobo said further reforms would make it easier for quality Australian companies to invest, trade and grow their operations in Laos.

“An improved business environment is not only good for business; it is good for development, and good for people. The Australian government is also investing directly in people through our education and scholarships work in Laos – ultimately that’s what growth and development is all about,” he said.

“Australia and Laos have much to offer one another, in a region that promises so much for our future prosperity. Both our countries are working for a better connected, more prosperous Mekong and Asean region, and a strong, ope n, rules-based global trading system.”

Mr Ciobo made the announcement during a keynote address to a business dinner in Vientiane, hosted by the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Laos (AustCham Lao) on Thursday. It brought together 100 local and international business people to hear Mr Ciobo’s speech and to participate in a question and answer session with the Minister on regional and global trade issues,

Mr Ciobo was in Vientiane last week for meetings with his ASEAN counterparts, to attend the Asean Economic Ministers Consultations with the Ministers of Australia and New Zealand and the East Asia Summit Economic Ministers’ Meeting, and to progress negotiations towards the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.

It is hoped that RCEP, an agreement that will cover almost half the world’s population and more than 30 percent of global GDP, will complement efforts through the Asean Economic Community to simplify commerce and reduce trading costs in the Asia-Pacific region.

“For Australia and Laos, what this all means is increased opportunities for our businesses, large and small, to find niches in global value chains,” Mr Ciobo said.

Source: Vientiane Times