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Importers, Exporters Face Further Trade Barriers

Source: Vientiane Times

Importers and exporters in Laos are grappling with several challenges despite the government’s active efforts to reduce procedures and trade barriers.

The processing of documents related to imports and exports in some provinces still involves many sectors, and there are the regulations of different sectors and police inspections along roads, according to the Department of Import and Export.

The government is encouraging all the sectors to use electronic systems, which are intended to replace the existing document systems, in order to shorten the time taken to complete procedures and to ensure greater transparency.

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The move is also aimed at improving the business environment and facilitating trade.

In 2018, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith issued an order to streamline procedures and coordinate mechanisms to facilitate business operations.

It was aimed at bolstering the government’s efforts to improve Laos’ ease-of-doing-business ranking as assessed by the World Bank, from the current 154th place to a ranking with only two digits.

Prime Minister Thongloun has instructed ministries and other bodies, which are responsible for the 11 indicators used by the World Bank to assess the ranking, to take thorough action to improve their performance and the business environment.

Laos is projected to reach a higher ranking in global ease-of-doing-business (EODB) by 2021, as the government has prioritised the implementation of necessary measures as key factors in the development agenda.

In recent years, measures for improving the business environment have been vigorously implemented in Laos but the country is still unable to perform well at the regional level.

Recently, Laos was named the second worst performer in Asean, ahead of Myanmar, which was ranked 171st, according to the World Bank’s annual EODB ranking index last year.

The rank of Laos deteriorated from 141 in 2017 to 154 in 2018. Ease-of-doing-business in Laos averaged 153.73 from 2008 to 2018, reached an all-time low of 167 in 2009, and a high of 136 in 2015.

The premier also said only a minor change in the ranking is expected next year but it will be much better in 2021.

Despite the fact that the government has faced several challenges in removing barriers, it is committed to enforce tougher measures for more progress in improving the business environment.