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13 February 2010

Laos gets closer to WTO accession

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Communist Laos has entered the final round of negotiations to enter the World Trade Organization (WTO), state media reported Friday.

The process, which has been ongoing for 13 years, was set to accelerate in the coming year, DPA news agency quoted the report as saying.

"Laos is in the final round of negotiations for WTO accession," Lao Minister of Industry and Commerce Nam Vinhaket told a conference on the WTO held in Vientiane this week.

The minister said Laos still needed to address questions regarding its service sector before entry was possible, the Vientiane Times reported.

"It is important to improve our laws not only for WTO but for ourselves, to integrate our economy into the international trade systems," he said.

Nam noted that it took China 15 years before gaining WTO membership in 2001, while after 13 years of talks Laos is already not far from its goal.

"This year, we will step up our negotiations for WTO accession," Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Thongloun Sisoulith told the same conference. "We need to do many things, we need to be more active and responsible to accelerate our work."

Laos, under communist rule since 1975, has opened up the economy to foreign trade and private investment since 1987.


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