(KPL) The European Union (EU) has supported  EUR 5 million for export competitiveness and job creation in the Lao PDR by launching the ASEAN Regional Integration Support-Lao PDR  Trade-Related Assistance(ARISE Plus-Lao PDR) in Vientiane on Sept 9.

This four-year action will be implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the International Trade Centre and aims at stimulating inclusive economic growth, job creation and strengthening climate-change resilience.

The project seeks to boost the Lao PDR’s export competitiveness and integration in regional and global value chains by promoting trade and tapping into the potential of two selected sectors in particular: wood processing and specialty agriculture.

It will enable small and medium-size enterprises in the Lao PDR to increase their export knowledge, including on how to trade better and more with partners in the European Union.

Currently the Lao PDR’ fourth-largest trading partner, the EU also wants to support the Lao PDR in taking better advantage of its membership of the World Trade Organisation and reap the benefits of greater access to global markets.

The EU also wants to step up assistance to the Lao PDR to strengthen its economic integration into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In particular, the goal is to ensure that the Lao PDR is better enabled to take advantage of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), which seeks to achieve free flow of goods across the region and other commitments under the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025, which aims to create an integrated economic zone among the member states.

The launch of ARISE Plus Lao PDR was held in conjunction with the official visits to the Lao PDR by Mr Neven  Mimics, the European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development and ITC Executive Director Arancha Gonzalez.

“I strongly support the ARISE Plus Lao PDR Project’s objective that focuses on improving the business environment in specific sectors and increase trade and participation of Lao enterprises in global and regional value-chains by developing productive capacity, addressing supply-side constraints and enhancing firm level competitiveness,” said Mr Somchit Inthamith, Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce.

Many of the most needed nutrition interventions in the Lao PDR are currently mainly financed through external donor-funded projects hence the need to get these on-budget as soon as possible to ensure sustainability, especially  in a context where the Lao PDR is gradually progressing out of LDC status.

ARISE Plus-Lao PDR is the four -year national Lao component of the regional ARISE Plus programme that contributes to the integration of the Lao economy into global production chains through targets support to both the public and private sectors, with a focus on smallholders and SMEs with a total budget of EUR 5.01 million.

Overall objective is to promote inclusive growth, increased climate change resilience, mitigation of vulnerability (especially due to dependence on a limited number of sectors and market) and job creation in the Lao PDR.