Tag Archives: foreign

Max Mara vs Laos’ Oma Ethnic Group: Fashion Chain Facing Claims of Textile Plagiarism, Design Theft

Oma People of Laos versus Max Mara in Plagiarism, Design Theft Claim

The Laotian Times looks at the plagiarism accusations lodged against fashion chain Max Mara by the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre. In doing so, we also welcome the chance to publish Max Mara’s response to these claims as soon as they become available.

Alleged plagiarism of traditional designs of ethnic minority groups has hit the headlines in Laos with Italian born private fashion chain being accused of pilfering the property of the Oma people, an ethnic group who reside in the mountainous north and north-east of South East Asia’s multiethnic Laos.

No mention of origin. Products promoted on Max Mara Weekend Zagreb Instagram. #MaxOma Direct link:https://www.instagram.com/p/BvqktKiHM6A/(update: Max Mara has taken down this social media post!)

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

Weekend MaxMara Zagreb

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

Social media shares have hit the thousands for the underdog story of the year as the diminutive cultural community of a small number of villages goes into bat against global fashion giant Max Mara after the discovery of the alleged design theft in Croatia.

The campaign calls for Max Mara to (1) pull the clothing line from its stores and online, (2) publicly commit to not plagiarising designs again, and (3) donate 100% of the proceeds already earned from the sale of these garments to an organisation that advocates for the intellectual property rights of ethnic minorities.

Side by side comparison. #MaxOma

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

Multi-million dollar fashion brand Max Mara is exploiting cultural designs and heritage of the Oma, an isolated ethnic minority group in northern Laos, without any acknowledgment or compensation, Luang Prabang’s Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre alleges.

No mention of origin of the "ethnic print" or the Oma on their website. #MaxOma

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

“Our grandparents passed down these traditions to our parents, and our parents to us. We are the Oma people, and we preserve our culture by making and wearing our traditional clothes. We need them especially for funeral rites, out of respect to our ancestors.” – Khampheng Loma, Head of Nanam Village

Campaigning alongside Laos’ Oma people is the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre in UNESCO World Heritage Listed Luang Prabang.

In fact, it was the discovery of the alleged examples of appropriation by the centre’s staff in far-away Croatia that has led to the accusations against the fashion giant.Lauren Ellis, former employee of Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre and current museums curator based in Melbourne.

Side by side comparison. #MaxOma

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

Her reaction when she discovered the Max Mara collection in one of the brand’s stores in Zagreb, Croatia?

“I had to do a double take. It was only because I had worked in Laos that I immediately recognized the designs as Oma. They had copied the patterns exactly. I couldn’t believe that this major brand would sell such blatantly stolen designs.” 

Now, together the Oma and the TAEC are highlighting appropriation of the owners’ intellectual property following alleged Infringements by the Italian-founded fashion chain Max Mara.



Working with embroidery and applique is very challenging. Each motif is difficult and time-consuming to make. But, this is our tradition. Now, we can make products to sell to help support our families.” – Khampheng Loma, Head of Nanam Village

Side by side comparison. #MaxOma

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

The handmade textiles of the Oma are incredibly detailed, taking a huge amount of time, skill, and patience. To see them reduced to a printed pattern on a mass-produced garment is heartbreaking.” – Tara Gujadhur, TAEC Co-Director

Side by side comparison. #MaxOma

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

“The issue here is not the integration of Oma motifs in a more globalized world through the collection of Max Mara,” Dr. Lissoir said.

Cultures are fluid. Communities and their traditions and handicrafts are in constant change. They adapt themselves and get inspired by other cultures. Always have, always will.

However, Max Mara didn’t get inspired by Oma motifs and reinterpret them. They simply scanned a handmade piece and printed it on clothes without even mentioning the existence of Oma community.

This is not cultural appreciation. This is not creative interpretation. This is plagiarism.”

 

TAEC’s full statement reads:

“ITALIAN FASHION BRAND MAX MARA PLAGIARISES DESIGNS OF ETHNIC MINORITY GROUP IN LAOS”

“Multi-million dollar fashion brand Max Mara is exploiting cultural designs and heritage of the Oma, an isolated ethnic minority group in northern Laos, without any acknowledgement or compensation, Luang Prabang’s Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre alleges.

Max Mara Fashion Group, a multi-billion dollar Italian couture fashion house plagiarised traditional designs of the Oma ethnic minority group in their Spring/Summer 2019 collection.

The patterns appeared in dresses, skirts and blouses presented in the collection’s “Max Mara Weekend” resort line.

The Oma, a small ethnic community living in the hills of Phongsaly Province in northern Laos, embroider, stitch, and appliqué these colorful designs onto their traditional clothing, including head scarves, jackets, and leg wraps.

Max Mara digitally duplicated and printed the designs onto fabric, reducing painstaking, traditional motifs to factory-produced patterns.

The colours, composition, shapes, and even placement, are identical to the original Oma designs. Max Mara’s design and marketing team has not acknowledged or compensated the Oma in marketing, labeling, or display of the collection in their stores and online shop, nor have they responded to urgent enquiries on the issue.

A largely agrarian community, the Oma live in the remote mountains northern Laos, northwestern Vietnam and southern China. Their exact population and number of villages is difficult to establish, as they are often grouped as part of the larger Akha ethnic group.

However, it is estimated that in Laos there are fewer than 2,000 Oma across seven villages.

Traditional clothing is still a vital part of the identity and pride of Oma people — handspun, indigo-dyed garments with vibrant red embroidery and applique is distinctive and unique to their group.

In recent years, Oma women have begun to earn income through the sale of their distinctive crafts. In remote communities with few economic opportunities, these earnings are vital, and used towards improved nutrition, health, and education for their families.

Founded in 1951 by Italian Achille Maramotti, Max Mara Fashion Group has grown into an international fashion powerhouse with over 2,200 stores in 105 countries and an online shop.

In 2017, Max Mara Fashion Group recorded global sales of €1.558 million, across all brands.

Unlike most couture houses which are publicly traded or held by multinational corporations, Max Mara Fashion Group is privately-held and helmed by Luigi Maramotti, CEO and a member of the original founding family.

Co-Founder of the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC), a social enterprise founded to celebrate and promote Laos’ ethnic cultural heritage and support rural artisans, is Tara Gujadhur.

“This is not an example of simple cultural appropriation, where designers utilize ‘ethnic-inspired’ elements, colors, materials, or styling, toeing the murky line between appreciation and appropriation,” Gujadhur said.

“This is stealing the work of artisans who do not have the tools to fight it on their own,”

TAEC’s small team based in Luang Prabang, Laos, is working to draw attention to Max Mara Fashion Group’s negligent behavior.

Upon discovering the company’s plagiarism purely by chance, they sent repeated emails and messages to Max Mara’s headquarters, with no response.

As a result, TAEC is now taking to social media to amplify their message and enlist the public’s support.

A call for action is being shared from TAEC’s Facebook and Instagram page (@taeclaos), where photo comparisons of the products can be found, as well.

“A design is intellectual property, whether it’s sketched in a notebook by an illustrator, mocked up by a graphic designer on a computer, or embroidered on indigo-dyed cotton in a remote village in Laos. If it’s generally understood that using someone’s photography or written work without acknowledgment or permission is wrong, why would a handcrafted textile design be any different?,” Gujadhur said.

“Over the past three decades, protecting the intellectual property rights of the third world and indigenous peoples has become recognized as crucial, although how this should be done is much more debatable. We are looking at ways to assist the communities we work with to tackle this issue.”

“For this behavior to go unchecked is dangerous, as it sends the message that creative work that is traditional and shared by a community and culture in the developing world does not deserve the same kind of protections given to contemporary designs by individual ‘artists’ in the West.

“Companies can harvest motifs, materials, and ideas freely from communities that lack the educational, financial, and technological resources to have their rights recognized.”

TAEC began working with the Oma in Nanam Village in 2010 when the organization was hired by a German development agency to survey their crafts and identify potential income-generating opportunities for the community.

Since then, TAEC has helped Nanam to create more market-oriented products, such as pouches, cuffs, and wine bottle sleeves, generating much-needed cash for the women artisans and their families.

The handicrafts are sold in TAEC’s museum shops in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Laos’ few cities that draws significant international tourism.

Currently, TAEC works with over 30 communities across Laos, with fifty percent of the proceeds from their shops flowing directly to artisans.

TAEC has spoken to Khampheng Loma, the headman of Nanam Village, and not surprisingly, he was somewhat unclear about the issue.

“The artisans we work with live in a very remote community, so their life experience is completely removed from issues of intellectual property rights.

However, we will continue to discuss it with them, as we recognize this as an important, long-term process,” according to Thongkhoun Soutthivilay, TAEC’s Co-Director, who works closely with the Oma women on handicraft production.

“Each motif has a special meaning,” Loma said.

“Our tradition of embroidery makes us who we are. In our culture, you have to know how to embroider to be able to call yourself Oma.”

TAEC’s campaign to draw attention to this issue is now live, using Facebook, Instagram, and influencers across platforms to call out Max Mara’s plagiarism.

The campaign calls for Max Mara to (1) pull the clothing line from its stores and online, (2) publicly commit to not plagiarising designs again, and (3) donate 100% of the proceeds already earned from the sale of these garments to an organisation that advocates for the intellectual property rights of ethnic minorities.

The Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre (TAEC) is a local social enterprise founded in 2006 to promote the appreciation and transmission of Laos’ ethnic cultural heritage and livelihoods based on traditional skills.

The Centre’s primary activities are two-fold: a museum, and fair-trade handicrafts shops directly linked with artisan communities. The Centre’s work includes school outreach activities, craft workshops, lectures, research, and a non-profit foundation.

What did Max Mara do?

Max Mara used traditional designs of the Oma ethnic minority group in their Spring/Summer 2019 collection for the “Max Mara Weekend” clothing line, without acknowledgment, and likely without permission or compensation. Oma women embroider, stitch, and appliqué these designs onto their traditional clothing, including head scarves, jackets, and leg wraps. Max Mara had these designs digitally duplicated and printed onto fabric, reducing painstaking, traditional motifs to factory-produced patterns. The colors, composition, shapes, and even placement are identical to the Oma designs.

Who are the Oma?

The Oma are a small ethnic group living in mainland Southeast Asia. They speak a language belonging to the Sino-Tibetan ethnolinguistic family, like the Akha – a community more numerous and widely recognized by the general public. While Oma are often described as a sub-group of Akha ethnic group (and called “Akha Oma”), many consider themselves a distinct community. This association with the Akha makes the exact population and number of villages of the Oma difficult to pin down. However, it is estimated that there are fewer than 2,000 Oma in Laos, inhabiting seven villages in Phongsaly province. Small Oma communities may also exist in neighboring southern China, northwest Vietnam, and Myanmar.


Can copying a design be considered “plagiarism?”

Absolutely. A design is intellectual property. Whether it’s sketched in a notebook by an illustrator, mocked up by a graphic designer on a computer, or embroidered on indigo-dyed cotton in a remote village in Laos. If it is generally understood that using someone’s photography or written work without acknowledgment or permission is wrong, why would a handcrafted textile design be any different? Over the past three decades, protecting the intellectual property (IP) rights of third-world and indigenous peoples has become recognized as essential, though how it should be done is much more debatable.

TAEC Co-Director, Tara, working with the Oma artisans in 2017 to understand the time involved in creating their clothing.Photo credit: Radium Tam

Posted by Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre on ວັນຈັນ ທີ 8 ເມສາ 2019

If the designs have no patent, how can Max Mara be held accountable?

Public opinion. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for traditional knowledge, artwork, design, and ideas to be co-opted by multinational corporations who have the power and financial clout to either ignore IP claims or drag them out in court. However, we have seen that a public outcry, negative press, and boycotting of brands can pressure companies to admit wrongdoing and improve their practices.

 

What should Max Mara have done if they wanted to feature the Oma’s designs?

They had many options. They could have approached the Oma community or artisans directly, and ordered their handmade work for a fair price to incorporate into their clothing, generating income for the community. There are organizations, like Nest, that work with brands to help link them to artisan groups and social enterprises in developing countries to collaborate. These partnerships can result in wonderfully creative products that also generate great visibility and earnings for both the brand and the communities. At the very least, Max Mara should have attributed the designs to the Oma (avoiding the generic “ethnic” term) and committed a certain percentage of profit to go towards education, rural development, or advocacy work with Oma communities.

How has the Oma community reacted to this issue?

The Oma artisans TAEC works with live in a very remote community, so their life experience is completely removed from issues of intellectual property rights. However, we will continue to discuss it with them, as we recognize this as an important, long-term process.

If they don’t understand the issue, why does it matter?

Plagiarism is wrong, whether the plagiarised feel wronged or not. Letting this kind of corporate behavior go unchecked is dangerous, as it sends the message that creative work that is traditional and shared by a community and culture in the developing world does not deserve the same kind of protections given to contemporary designs by individual “artists” in the West. Companies can harvest motifs, materials, and ideas freely from communities that lack the educational, financial, and technological resources to have their rights recognized.

How did TAEC get involved?

TAEC has worked with the Oma since 2010 when we were hired to survey their crafts and identify potential income-generating opportunities for their artisans. Most recently, we have worked with them on documenting their traditional music and new year’s celebrations. Nanam Village is an approximately 9-hour drive from Luang Prabang, part of it unpaved, and is by far the most remote village (of 30 across Laos) that TAEC works with.

On Tuesday, 2 April 2019, a friend and former colleague was in Zagreb, Croatia, and saw the designs through a Max Mara shop window. She immediately shared pictures with us. Amazed, we initially thought it might be actual handcrafted work from the Oma that was incorporated into the clothing. Upon further examination, it became clear that not only were the Oma not credited in the name of the garment, on tags, or online, but the motifs were simply digitally reproduced and mass-printed. TAEC immediately reached out to Max Mara’s headquarters through various e-mail addresses and social media channels. After a week with no response, TAEC feels it’s important to make this issue public.

What should Max Mara do now to right this?

Max Mara should: (1) pull the clothing line from its stores and online, (2) publicly commit to not plagiarising designs again, and (3) donate 100% of the proceeds already earned from the sale of these garments to an organization that advocates for the intellectual property rights of ethnic minorities.”

 

Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, Luang Prabang, Laos

Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre, Luang Prabang, Laos

 

Travel Plans? Laos Set to Provide eVisa From June 2019

Laos EVisa Program Planned for June Implementation

Laos has announced it will begin offering electronic visas (eVisa) to foreign tourists and travelers from June this year.

Establishment of the eVisa program will commence in mid-2019, according to a Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs notice issued earlier this month dated March 11.

Laos' eVisa plans announced in note issued via Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Laos’ eVisa plans announced in note issued via Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The move comes as the government takes steps to modernize and ensure visa procedures are faster and more convenient for tourist visa applicants, according to the notice.

It is also another means by which the government hopes to attract more tourism to the country.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs consular office is working with all other ministries and departments to ensure the comprehensive and timely development of the eVisa program.

The eVisa program, it is hoped, will allow foreign visitors greater access to information and more convenience in visa processing, and will assist in making the country more widely known among tourists.

It comes as policymakers and the private sector seek to capitalize on the benefits of improved connectivity and widen the range of offerings to attract valuable tourism and travel-related income and investment.

© The Laotian Times

 

Foreign Aid on the Decline

Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has called for central and local departments to do more to pursue the development agenda and strive for greater self-reliance as foreign aid to Laos declines.

The premier gave the advice at a two-day meeting held last week to instruct officials on the implementation of the socio-economic development plan and budget for 2017.

The trend in the reduction of foreign aid over the coming years is the result of Laos enjoying greater development and donors moving their assistance to other, poorer countries.

“We shouldn’t expect much [from the assistance]. We should try to be self-sufficient,” Mr Thongloun told the meeting.

He made the comment as Laos approaches the 2020 deadline for graduation from Least Developed Country status.

An official from the Ministry of Planning and Investment in charge of Official Development Assistance (ODA) said it is a common trend globally that foreign aid provided to a country decreases when that country achieves a certain level of development and self-reliance.

However, the official, who asked not to be named, said that even if foreign aid declined this did not mean Laos would suffer financially because the country expected to obtain more loans.

“Growing development means a country has a growing capacity to repay debt, so it could expect to secure more loans,” he said.

The official added that though the number of grants might decrease, ODA, which comprises both grants and loans, could increase in the form of loans.

In the 2015-16 fiscal year, Laos received more than 6,462 billion kip in ODA, of which almost 2,000 billion kip was given as grants and the rest as loans.

Despite the expected decline in foreign grants, in 2017 the government anticipates it will receive more ODA worth 8,629 billion kip, which will represent 23.73 percent of total expenditure planned for 2017.

In light of the decreasing availability of grants, Mr Thongloun stressed the need for state departments to work harder to attract foreign investment as a source of finance.

To achieve this, he told central and local authorities attending the meeting to enhance the investment climate by simplifying and expediting the investment proposal process in a transparent manner.

“Mechanisms must be quick, timely and transparent. It [the investment proposal] must be passed through only a single window,” he told the meeting, adding that the current process was too slow and not transparent.

In addition, the premier told the meeting to ensure the macro-economy remained stable along with the inflation rate. The price of goods sold in markets should also be regulated to prevent fluctuation, he added, noting that these were important factors in attracting investment.

Central and local departments were asked to incorporate the 2017 Socio-Economic Development Plan into their work plan and programmes based on local potential.

Source: Vientiane Times

Ministry Renews Registration for Illegal foreign workers

Authorities have extended registration for illegal foreign expatriates who are working in Laos illegally, the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare has said.

The extension was made after the last registration period from January to September this year was phased out, which has registered 24,000 foreigners working illegally in provinces across Laos.

The minister, Dr Khampheng Saysompheng, told local media recently that local workplaces in Laos still need additional labour thus utilising foreigners is still necessary.

He stated that some workplaces or projects in some localities suffered from labour shortages when foreign expatriates who had no work permits were prohibited from work or sent back to their countries of origin.

This impacted the production levels of enterprises or project operations.

Thus, he said, “We decided to continue registering foreign workers [who are still working illegally],” adding that he has told provincial departments to continue carrying out the registration and inspection of the issue.

The 24,000 foreign workers registered during the last phase are mostly Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai nationals respectively, according to information from the Labour Management Department of the ministry.

These foreigners entered Laos as workers with development projects but did not return home after the projects was phased out and their visas became invalid; instead they sought work illegally. Some came in as visitors but sought employment or engaged in trading activities illegally.

The registered alien expatriates whose conditions meet the required criteria were given six months to apply for and obtain legal documents comprising a residence permit, visa and work permit so that they are entitled to work legally in Laos.

To meet the conditions, the foreigners are required to have a workplace to certify their employment. Those foreigners such as hawkers and nail cutters or painters are given three months to clear all things and return hto their home countries afterward.

In a move to supply a larger workforce to meet the growing demand for labour in domestic workplaces, the ministry has set a target to produce 658,000 labourers by 2020 while this year it has provided 132,000 workers.

Source: Vientiane Times

Govt Promotes Human Rights, Foreign Ministry Says

The Lao government has always attached great importance to protecting and promoting human rights and basic rights of its population, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

The ministry issued the statement to mark the International Human Right Day, which is observed on December 10.

The political, economic, social, cultural and family rights of the people have been assured and enshrined in the constitution, laws and regulations of Laos, which coincide with Laos’ regional and international obligations and commitments on human rights.

Under the 2015-version of the constitution, in Article 34, the state recognises, respects, protects and assures human rights and basic rights of the population.

Laos has been a state party to the United Nations (UN) seven core treaties on human rights including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

In addition, a number of laws and regulations have been promulgated to protect and promote human rights of the Lao multiethnic people equally without discrimination, the ministry said.

Currently, Laos is drawing up a national action plan to implement 116 recommendations made at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) – a process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States.

The Lao government has formed a national coordinated mechanism to coordinate among the state bodies from the central to the local levels on human rights affairs in order to ensure effective oversight and progression.

The Lao government has attached great importance to educating and disseminating the international conventions on human rights in order to create better understanding on human rights amongst the people. Attention has also been paid to capacity building for state officials including law enforcers so they are capable of implementing and fulfilling the regional and international obligations Laos has committed to, the ministry said.

In regional engagement, Laos has been an active player to cooperate on human rights within the frameworks of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) and ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) among others.

In the coming years, the Lao government has committed to continuing to work with the international community to promote and protect human rights based on the principle of equality, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs and shared interests, the ministry said.

The government is also striving to make Laos a state ruled by law by 2020 to create conditions for the Lao multiethnic people to enjoy their basic rights in line with the constitution and laws along with pursuing regional and international obligations on human rights that Laos has committed to.

 

Source: Vientiane Times

Foreign Affairs Stresses Need for Personnel Development

Despite the country having made good achievements in foreign affairs, the lack of skills among young civil servants remains a challenge for the sector.

This finding was revealed at the annual meeting of the sector, which continues in Vientiane this week, with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Saleumxay Kommasith presiding over the gathering.

This year has been noted as a year of success for Laos in foreign affairs, with the country serving as ASEAN chair and hosting several important regional events, especially the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits, which have also highlighted the country’s success in its diplomacy.

Despite the successes, Laos still needs to improve the skills and talents of the personnel in the sector to meet with the requirements of regional and international integration.

Speaking at the meeting yesterday, a representative from Vientiane’s Department of International Relations noted the participation of all residents in the capital in hosting the big events, which he said contributed to their success.

Meanwhile, he said his department still faced difficulties in terms of the capabilities of its personnel, especially their knowledge of the English language .

The majority of personnel in my department graduated from the National University of Laos but their work performance was poor, the official said, adding that the capable ones are those who graduated from institutes in Vietnam and China.

According to him, the young civil servants performed satisfactorily but they did not have skills in terms of compiling reports.

The ministry has around 1,000 personnel in total, of whom 250 people are implementing their mandates in overseas locations.

A representative from the ministry’s Department of International Organisations gave his assessment that the country is fifty percent prepared for international integration, noting that preparedness in human resources is a crucial component in this respect.

He called for a greater focus on enhancing the enthusiasm of civil servants and government employees to be active in their work and also continuously studying and learning.

Regarding foreign affairs personnel in the army, an official from the Ministry of National Defence’s Foreign Relations Department, Colonel Khamsene Mahavong told the meeting about concerns in regards to the development of successors in this section of the army.

He said even though they have worked for the ministry for two or three years, the newly recruited generation could not manage to write proposals to other departments and organisations within.

He proposed that leaders and commanders enhance their attention in relation to addressing the challenges.

In his view, many people received their bachelor’s and master’s degrees only on paper, and they will gain real knowledge and skills only after three to five-years of work experience.

Training accompanied by practice in their places of work is a necessary channel for the skills development of personnel, according to Col Khamsene.

He also agreed with the need for knowledge and skills in foreign languages, especially English language, which was taken as a very important component of knowledge for public servants in the era of international integration.

He told the audience that the Ministry of National Defence had achieved success in hosting an ASEAN meeting on the defence sector without using translators from outside the ministry.

Source: Vientiane Times

Preparations Discussed for 13th Meeting on Foreign Affairs

Over 100 senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs met in Vientiane to discuss their preparations for the 13thNational Meeting on Foreign Affairs, which has been scheduled for Dec 15-16.

“The meeting will review the implementation of the Party policy on external affairs over the past five years by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomatic offices located overseas,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith.

“The participants will exchange views evaluating the performance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and relevant organizations, identifying shortcomings and seeking proper solutions to the problems so that we can record greater achievements in foreign affairs in line with the guidance stated in the resolution of the 10th Party Congress,” said Mr Saleumxay.

 

Source: KPL

Country Makes Remarkable Achievements in Foreign Affairs

The relations between the Lao PDR and great powers have seen positive escalation, while the nation has maintained normalcy in its relations with developed countries, reflecting some remarkable achievements in Laos’ foreign affairs.

The achievements were disseminated at the 13th meeting on foreign affairs, which opened yesterday in Vientiane, with Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Saleumxay Kommasith presiding over the meeting to review the performance of the sector over the past three years.

A report disseminated at the meeting remarked on two events including the second political consultation held in Moscow, Russia, and the 11th meeting of the Laos-Russia joint commission on trade-economic and scientific-technical cooperation as achievements towards the active improvement and upgrade of relations with great powers.

These have contributed to deepening the friendship and good relationship between Laos and Russia, as well as between the two ministries of Foreign Affairs, the document stated.

Meanwhile the relations between Laos and the United States have seen the exchange of visits between top leaders, and the visits of high-level delegations and experts. The two countries signed an agreement earlier this year on trade and investment during the special ASEAN-US Summit.

The United States is considering granting rights under the Generalised System of Preferences to Laos as a least developed country, aimed at promoting imports from Laos to the United States, with a special focus on textile and garment products.

In addition, the European Union announced at the Laos-EU JC meeting held in Brussels in 2014 that it would provide 207 million euros as Official Development Assistance to Laos from 2014 to 2020.

The cooperation between Laos and France was noted as a historical milestone, with France continuing the provision of US$25 million a year as assistance in the second phase for bilateral cooperation projects in agriculture, health, cultural and education infrastructure.

The meeting was held under the theme: Preventive diplomacy and breaking through in the mission of national defence and development, enhancing ownership for regional and international integration.

The ministry’s leaders, department directors, ambassadors, diplomatic permanent representatives and consular generals overseas, as well as senior diplomats were in attendance to identify deficiencies and seek solutions for addressing them, and making new achievements in the nation’s foreign affairs.

Strengthening the capable leadership and the ownership of civil servants in the sector was a special topic of discussion at the meeting.

The government has been actively promoting its cooperation with the international community following the direction of building a state governed by the rule of law through implementing its obligations to the international community.

As of today, Laos is party to more than 900 international conventions. In relation to 450 of these conventions, it has bilateral agreements with 65 countries.

As of this year, the Lao PDR has diplomatic relations with 139 countries around the world, and maintains 39 embassy offices overseas. Of this number, 26 are embassies, three are permanent representative offices, nine are consul generals, one is a consulate office, and the nation also has honourary consulate offices in 17 countries.

The ministry has a total personnel of about 1,000 people, of whom 250 people are implementing their mandates in overseas locations.

Source: Vientiane Times