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Australia Approves AUD4.5 Million For Business, Trade Improvement

Source: Vientiane Times

Laos is now actively working to improve the business environment and facilitate trade as part of supporting the government’s policy to improve the ease of doing business.
To this end, the government of Australia last Friday approved AUD4.5 million (over US$3.1 million) to support ease of doing business reforms, trade facilitation and private sector development in Laos.

The grant, provided through the World Bank-administered Lao Competitiveness and Trade Project multi-donor trust fund, will continue Australia’s support for the Lao government’s economic reform priorities, including implementation of Prime Minister’s Order No. 2 on the ease of doing business.

The administrative agreement between Australia and the World Bank to support the project was signed by Australian Ambassador to Laos, Mr Jean-Bernard Carrasco and Country Manager of World Bank Laos, Mr Nicola Pontara.

Witnessing the event was Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mrs Khemmani Pholsena with ministry officials and staffers from the Australian Embassy in Laos and World Bank also in attendance.
In his remarks, Ambassador Carrasco said “Australia is pleased to work with the Lao government and World Bank to improve the ease of doing business, trade facilitation and firm competitiveness in Laos.”

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He said Australia’s support for the Lao Competitiveness and Trade project would assist Laos to develop its private sector, connect to the regional and global economy, and implement the international rules that support stability and prosperity in the region.

Through the project’s Business Assistance Facility, Australian aid will contribute to creating more employment and income generation opportunities for Lao people.

“Australia is proud of our long history of support to Laos for trade facilitation, private sector development and economic reform,” Ambassador Carrasco said. He also noted that over the past decade, through the Trade Development Facilities I and II, Australia has provided over AUD12 million to support trade facilitation and private sector development in Laos. “This included support to Laos to accede to the World Trade Organisation and implement its obligations as a WTO member,” he added.

Meanwhile, World Bank Country Manager Mr Pontara said “Strengthening Laos’ private sector is a key development priority as it can create jobs and make economic growth more inclusive.” He added that the project aimed to ensure that all companies, particularly small enterprises, and companies outside major economic centres can benefit from the government’s reforms. In addition, Minister of Industry and Commerce Mrs Khemmani pointed out that Australia has been a long-time key development partner for Laos over the past decades. The development assistance of Australia is making important impacts in education, rural development and trade reform areas.

“This newly-approved grant through the World Bank-administered multi-donor trust fund supports the government’s efforts to integrate with regional and international trading systems, and improve the export competitiveness of our non-resource sectors,” she added. Australia’s support for the Lao Competitiveness and Trade Project is part of its commitment to ensuring a stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region based on international rules.