LUANG PRABANG – 11 MARCH 2019 – Lao PDR’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC) and the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) have officially launched a new effort to increase the country’s exports and support investments in business development.
Targeting sectors in three northern Lao PDR provinces where improvements would directly increase incomes for poor households and especially women, the US$1.8 million investment will focus on increasing productivity of agribusinesses and handicrafts, supporting local enterprises by removing existing barriers to business and enhancing public-private dialogue.
“The project forms part of the third generation of our long partnership with EIF and aims to support the Government’s vision for trade and private sector development: enhancing the competitiveness of Lao enterprises, improving the business enabling environment and economic integration under the World Trade Organisation and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations,” said MOIC Minister H.E. Mrs. Khemmani Pholsena at the launch in Luang Prabang.
Following research on agriculture and supply chain needs, the predominantly highland provinces of Luangnamtha, Oudomxay and Phongsaly were selected because of the limited off-farm opportunities and high levels of poverty. Agribusinesses in Luangnamtha’s rice sector, Oudomxay’s maize and Phongsaly’s tea will be targeted with the aim to improve agricultural production and expand market orientation – and based on emerging opportunities with nearby countries.
Interventions will include crop-specific trainings and making the needed connections between rural farmers, agribusinesses and markets. The project also aims to support at least 200 households that work with handicrafts in those provinces, with 60% of those to be impacted women.
“We are pleased to partner with the Government on such an important effort that responds to the country’s national development plan and follows from years of impactful work together to support inclusive trade. With simplified procedures for new businesses as well as lower trade costs, we aim for Lao PDR’s small enterprises to thrive,” said EIF Executive Director Ratnakar Adhikari.