UNCTAD has been supporting the Lao PDR in its accession process since 1999 which began with assistance in the preparation of its Memorandum on the Foreign Trade Regime, a key document in the accession process.
Minister of Industry and Commerce, Dr. Nam Vinhaket
The next meeting of the WTO Working Party on the accession of Laos, which was established in February 1998 to examine the country's foreign trade regime, is expected to be held in September 2012. It is widely expected that it would be the final meeting before the country's WTO accession package is transmitted to the General Council before the year's end for approval by the WTO membership -- and for onward transmission to the Lao Government for its ratification, which would then complete the formalities for the Lao PDR to become a WTO member.
At the request of the Lao PDR, UNCTAD's support in the accession process included trade policy formulation and implementation, the review and drafting of domestic trade related legislation and suggestions on negotiating options and strategies.
The assistance provided also included sectoral impact studies with the use of national experts. These studies were on the industrial and agricultural sectors of Laos -- and the development implications of the WTO accession negotiations, as well as on services, including distribution services.
The study on the industrial and agricultural sectors inter alia identified some specific policies to strengthen the sectors and also recommended the level of bound tariffs that Laos should offer in its offer in goods. The study on services helped define services policies and strategies.
UNCTAD's technical assistance has also enabled the Lao Government to be more aware of the developmental implications and the special and differential treatment provisions in the GATT and WTO agreements.
It will be these provisions along with other key areas of agreement that will define the parameters of the country's new trade policy framework, and which will serve the country in its on-going pursuit to further develop itself through expanding and broadening its productive base, and inter alia through the reform of its policy, institutional and regulatory frameworks.
UNCTAD will continue its technical assistance to the Lao PDR in this final leg, including in the ratification of the accession package, and, as already requested by the Government, in its post accession phase.