On behalf of the BBGL, Lee Sheridan attended the 20th Private Sector Trade Working Group held on the 6th June 2023.
Chaired by H.E. Dr. Manothong Vongsay, Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, and H.E. Ms. Ina Macriulionyte, Ambassador of the European Union to Lao PDR, the meeting focused on four key areas:
- An update and overview on the preparation for the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2024 which is being Chaired by Lao PDR.
- Updates on plans to revise the Investment Promotion Law.
- Results from the 14th Lao Business Forum.
- Results from the recent Foreign Investment Sentiment Survey conducted by some of the international business chambers (including the BBGL).
1) ASEAN CHAIRMANSHIP 2024
Full details on the progress and plans on Laos’ preparation to take on the Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2024 can be found in their presentation. Of particular interest to our Members may be the 12 ASEAN-level Priority Economic Deliverables (PEDs) Laos is aiming to achieve during this period:
- The launch of the Negotiations on the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Intellectual Property Cooperation (AFAIPC).
- The declaration on ASEAN Connectivity 2024 (Post-2025)
- Substantial progress on updating the ASEAN-China Free-Trade Agreement
- Achieve Entry-into-Force of the upgraded ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA)
- Develop the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation Phase 3
- Adopt a Work Plan on Carbon Neutrality
- Endorsement of the Action Plan on ASEAN Framework for Sustainable Tourism Development
- Development of the ASEAN Action Plan on Sustainable Agriculture
- Adopt an ASEAN Work Plan on the Creative Economy
- Adopt a New ASEAN Framework for Narrowing the Development Gap
- Conduct a baseline study on how ASEAN can leverage the digitization of ID
- Adoption of a Roadmap to Establish Regionally Comparable and Recognised Unique Business Identification Numbers (UBIN) in ASEAN
2) INVESTMENT PROMOTION LAW
With regard to revision of the Investment Promotion Law, this is currently under review and areas being considered include:
- Expansion of the number of priority industries which would receive special incentives to include organic agriculture, education and health.
- Revisions to the law to improve the internal mechanisms for setting up a business. The one-stop shop concept is currently limited by the number of different processes / approvals that are required and the lack of integrated management tools across different Ministries that are required to facilitate more rapid processing of applications.
- Upgrading of the law surrounding Public-Private Partnerships.
- Amendments to the rules regulating the use of offshore bank accounts by large investors such as mines to ensure profits and tax are directed into Lao PDR.
3) LAO BUSINESS FORUM RESULTS
LNCCI presented on the progress achieved in the recent Lao Business Forum (full report available here) and discussion followed upon key challenges facing the private sector. Key challenges raised included:
- Increase in the cost of production, particularly electricity and fuel.
- The on-going labour crisis, and the growing lack of both skills and people available, and how the proposed increase in minimum wage in Thailand will further exacerbate the issue.
- Access to finance, especially for SMEs.
- Waste management.
4) FOREIGN INVESTMENT SENTIMENT SURVEY
Sheng Lee, Country Head for ANZ Bank and one of our key sponsors, then made a very informative presentation (see here) based on the findings of the most recent Foreign Investment Sentiment Survey that the BBGL and other Chambers have been working on.
The BBGL would like to say thank you to Sheng, for highlighting the work of all the Chambers involved and using the information generated through these surveys to advocate for change for some of the most challenging areas faced by our members. The full survey report is available here.