Vice President Phankham Viphavanh has highly valued the substantial contribution made by the European Union (EU) to boost development and assist poverty reduction efforts in Laos.
Mr. Phankham highlighted the union’s assistance and the growing ties between Laos and the EU while speaking to the out-going EU Chargé d’Affaires to Laos Mr. Michel Goffin, who paid a farewell call on the Vice President in Vientiane on Wednesday.
The EU has long enjoyed a close relationship with Laos since the arrival of Mr. Goffin in early 2012, actively contributing to Laos’ successful hosting of the ASEM 9 Summit in 2012, during which highest leaders of the EU also took part.
Through substantial development assistance, support to the national reform agenda and a commitment to open markets, the EU has helped Laos in its efforts to build a brighter future for its population and to play an active role on the regional and international stages.
The Vice President praised the EU’s significant support towards Laos’ development over the past years and conveyed his deep gratitude to the Chargé d’Affaires for his service to the country during his tenure.
Meanwhile Mr. Goffin requested the vice president continue offering his close attention and guidance to the education and health sectors, which the EU has invested considerably in.
“I feel sad to leave a country with full tolerance and friendly smiling faces, which are very rare in today’s world, but I am very happy to see that the Party and the government are very committed to solving the country’s problems in order to ensure that Laos graduates from least development country status as planned,” Mr. Goffin said.
The EU is one of Laos’biggest development partners in terms of grant aid for development cooperation and humanitarian assistance, and also an important trade partner.
The EU programme for Laos 2014-2020 (207 million euros) focuses on the sectors of nutrition, education and governance, while also tackling horizontal issues such as UXO decontamination, gender equality and climate change.
Starting from 2016, European partners (the EU, EU Member States and Switzerland) are combining their development cooperation through joint programming.
The EU and its Member States set out a common vision, priorities, approach, division of labour and indicative financial allocations. Taken together, the EU and EU Member States are among the largest development donors in Laos, committing around 70 million euros annually.
On economic relations, the ‘Everything but Arms’ initiative extends import quota and duty- free access for Lao exports to the EU market, opening the door to the biggest single market in the world.
The EU Member States also maintain their bilateral economic relations with Laos and, combined, are the fourth largest investors in the country.
Source: Vientiane Times