Press Release 2012
Forum Helps Educate Lao Public about WTO Membership
Aug. 31, 2012
Laos is on the verge of joining the World Trade Organization (WTO), yet many Lao people are still unsure about what impact WTO membership will have on the country. In order to develop a broader public understanding of issues surrounding Laos’ accession to the WTO, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Foreign Trade Policy Department (FTPD) held a public forum on Aug. 30 at the International Cooperation and Training Center (ICTC). The forum was supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through its “LUNA Lao” economic development program.
Opening remarks at the forum were provided by H.E. Khemmani Pholsena, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Additional remarks were provided by U.S. Ambassador Karen Stewart.
More than 200 people attended the forum, including ministry officials and businesspeople, as well as many students and representatives of non-government organizations. The purpose of the event was to communicate information about the complicated process of WTO accession in a fun, easy-to-comprehend manner. In addition to speeches, panel discussions, and video presentations, the forum also included a WTO comedy role play, a quiz contest, and a lucky draw raffle.
While there are still a number of steps remaining in the accession process, Laos is expected to join the WTO in early 2013. Membership in the WTO will bring greater access to markets for Lao exports, more secure transit rights for goods, mechanisms to resolve trade disputes, and a greater emphasis on government transparency.