14th Lao Business Forum Sees 400 Local and International Participants

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14th Lao Business Forum Sees 400 Local and International Participants
Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone speaking at the 14th Annual Lao Business Forum.

The 14th annual Lao Business Forum, held on 27 March 2023, took place in Vientiane to review the progress of public-private dialogue aimed at improving the business environment in Laos.

The event attracted more than 400 participants, representing domestic and foreign businesses, public sector agencies, as well as international diplomatic community and development partners.

In his opening remarks, Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, acknowledged the importance of private sector development in achieving the Government’s objective of diversifying the economy, rebuilding from COVID-19, and graduating from the LDC status by 2026. The Prime Minister also highlighted common characteristics of high, sustained growth economies, which include openness, macroeconomic stability, future orientation with high savings, market allocation of resources, and effective government.

The half day event reviewed progress of the dialogue process since the 13th LBF and demonstrated broad support for structured dialogue under the Lao Business Forum in identification and resolution of key issues affecting the private sector in the country.

Private sector speakers also complimented the Government for making concerted efforts in improving the environment for doing business in the country. Key achievements include reduction in time and cost for starting a business outside the controlled list of activities, adoption of risk-based approach in business licensing in selected sectors, improving access to laws and regulations related to trade and investment, continuous implementation of commitments made in bilateral, regional, and international trade agreements, and capacity building for MSMEs.

Since the 13th LBF, the private sector and concerned government agencies prioritized 49 priority proposals relating to business entry, trade facilitation, access to financial services, enforcement of laws and regulations, promotion of sustainable tourism and agribusiness for structured dialogue, resulting in resolving 21 proposals, making good progress in 20 proposals, and eight proposals which cannot be resolved due to justifiable constraints.

The forum also agreed on a concrete plan of action to continue dialogue and seek appropriate solutions to the remaining 20 proposals in the next twelve months.

Mr. Sonexay closed the meeting by expressing government’s commitment to further enhance effectiveness of public-private dialogue under the Lao Business Forum through increasing accountability of concerned agencies in tackling costs, risks, and barriers to competition.