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Government Agencies and Business Debate Trade Facilitation

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The Lao government, in particular agencies involved in trade facilitation, have endeavoured to improve legislation related to import and export to be more simplified, timely and internationally compliant.However, the business sector is calling for continued improvement of the import and export legislation and procedures in Laos because there are still many procedures for processing import-export documents and they also take a significant amount of time.

The fifth trade facilitation secretariat meeting was held in Vientiane yesterday, opening opportunities for government agencies and the business sector to discuss trading problems, potential solutions and the remaining obstacles related to trade facilitation.

The meeting also opened new opportunities for the business sector to understand about the policies and plans of the government in regards to trade facilitation work.

The remaining obstacles on trade facilitation last year included a lack of coordination among concerned agencies between the local and central levels and the fact that many document inspection checkpoints are still in existence.

Other issues include overlaps in the collection of fees and limited staff numbers as well as a lack of oversight or action by some of the related sectors.

Next year, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce especially the Department of Import and Export will closely coordinate with the concerned agencies to create the regulations and guidelines related to the trade facilitation secretariat structure, draw up the trade facilitation strategy from 2016-2020 and seek to reduce the costs of trading and numbers of documents required so as to facilitate faster imports and exports.

It also aims to continue supplying information on trade facilitation domestically and internationally and improve the coordination mechanisms with concerned agencies from the central to the local levels as well as promote the border transit agreement’s implementation in the Mekong region.

The ministry is also tasked with ensuring there is only one border inspection point at international border checkpoints.

Trade facilitation is a critical sector for ensuring that international trade and customs procedures are simplified and that the costs of trading are reduced in order to enhance the effectiveness and competitiveness of business as well as to improve the trade environment and ensure transparency, standardisation, safety, stability and sustainability, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Ms Khemmani Pholsena said.

A recent report by the World Bank and The International Finance Corporation (IFC) unveiled that the survey for business facilitation in 189 countries ranked Laos at 134th for the year 2016, up from 139th last year, she added.

So, we have to continue to improve many procedures of trade facilitation, in particular equality in the implementation of trade facilitation regulations, improve the systems of approval to ensure they are shorter, faster and more transparent, Ms Khemmani stressed.

We should also create new ideas for the government staff to reveal trade facilitation information and to embrace new and modern technology equipment to ease their work and limit obstructions for business, she added.

Source: Vientiane Times