- General

Committee discusses next steps of ASEAN Regional Integration Support from EU-Lao PDR

The 4th Project Review Committee (PRC) meeting of the ARISE Plus Lao PDR project was organised on July 15, 2021 in Vientiane.

Co-chaired by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) and the European Union Delegation to the Lao PDR, the project has the International Trade Centre as an implementing agency.

More than 50 participants from the public and private sectors joined the meeting both in-person and online. The meeting presented the progress of project implementation including key achievements, challenges, and discussed the priorities.

The meeting of the project review committee and ARISE Plus Lao PDR’s stakeholders aims to ensure the project is going according to the agreed plan. Moreover, the implementing agency introduced and discussed the work plan for the remaining period of 2021 to stakeholders at the meeting.

The ASEAN Regional Integration Support from the EU – Lao PDR is also known as ARISE Plus Lao PDR. The project began in 2018 with the commitment to improve the country’s overall business environment and to increase its participation in global value chains, mainly in two sectors: coffee and wood processing. Ultimately, it aims to contribute to inclusive economic growth, increased climate change resilience, mitigation of vulnerability and job creation in the Lao PDR.

The project’s key achievements in the past six months (January – June 2021) were presented. Namely, the minister’s endorsement of the two sector export roadmaps for wood processing and coffee sectors; a series of training for both sectors were and continue to be conducted; the Lao PDR Foreign Trade Negotiations Roadmap was validated; the smooth operation of the Quality Champions Programme in fully online and hybrid mode among others.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Somchith Inthamith noted in his opening remarks “From the PRC Report, I’m pleased to learn that the implementation of the wider range activities in all three areas of the project interventions namely the regional economic integration; awareness on trade preference for export; and value chains development are progressing well despite the impact of Covid-19 restrictions”.

Ambassador of the European Union to the Lao PDR Ina Marciulionyte underscored the importance of the ARISE + Lao PDR project to tackle issues ranging from coordination amongst stakeholders to enhancing capacity of private sector in target sectors – coffee and wood-processing –, and its contribution to a sustainable and inclusive economic growth of the country.

Amidst economic downturn caused by COVID-19 pandemic, the project has successfully delivered a wide range of trainings and workshops to private and public sector representatives with the ultimate objective to increase exports of target sectors and to meet the requirements of the EU market.

As the project enters its 2-year of implementation, her remarks also calls for cooperation from stakeholders with the mid-term evaluation team in a way to improve the performance of the project for the reaming period and also to contribute to EU’s future programmes.

Ambassador Ina Marciulionyte replied by congratulating the Ministry of Industry and Commerce for the success of the event, the collaborative and consultative design process, and the comprehensiveness of the Coffee Sector Export Roadmap that was launched earlier this month. “It is an instrumental tool to increase exports of quality coffee to Europe and the world. It will also be key for leveraging impact and increasing economic opportunities for some specific target groups, such as youth and women”.

The ongoing global crisis poses challenges to the project inevitably. However, since the last Project Review Committee Meeting in last December, the implementation of activities accelerated considerably and reached the highest implementation rate since the commence of the ARISE Plus project.

A total of 16 training courses and workshops covering various trade issues was conducted in the past six months. These events were attended by a large number of participants from line ministries, and from public and private organisations. Besides, the feedback received from participants has been predominantly positive.

Later, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce representative presented the work plan for the next six months. This meeting also offered a suitable opportunity for project partners and stakeholders to discuss openly, share their thoughts, raise their concerns and propose solutions for the next steps of the project.

Source: Lao News Agency