By: Vientiane Times, March 14, 2016
VIENTIANE - Lao exports to the European Union amounted to 204.9 million euros from January-October 2015, growing by 16.6 percent from the same period last year.
Textiles and clothing remained the largest imported commodities from Laos making up 63 percent of total imports, growing by 8.1 percent, according to an EU report.
Coffee, the second largest import from Laos, accounted for 10.6 percent of total imports increasing by 33.3 percent, while sugar made up 4.8 percent of total exports from Laos experiencing unusually strong growth of 513.4 percent.
The large percentage increase in sugar exports was most likely due to it coming from a low base compared to the same period in year 2014.
The increase in Laos’ exports to the EU market could be linked to several factories in the Savan-Seno special economic zone in Savannakhet province beginning to export their products.
In the meantime, the EU’s total exports to Laos for the same period stood at 88.1 million euros, significantly decreasing by 36.1 percent.
The decrease may be linked to Laos becoming more regionally and globally integrated, with the nation sourcing products from more markets around the world.
Most of the key exports to Laos experienced moderate to sharp declines, including machinery, gems and jewellery, precious metals, pharmaceutical products, malt, starches, insulin, wheat gluten, electrical machinery and equipment. However, automotive parts, which represent 6.5 percent of EU exports to Laos, continued to enjoy robust growth of 107.7 percent.
Overall, the EU’s trade deficit with Laos widened to 186.4 million euros (from 133.2 million euros for the same period last year). The EU is the fourth largest investor in Laos after China, Thailand and Vietnam.
The EU works closely with Laos under the framework of the EU-Asean Cooperation Agreement to ensure an effective environment for trade and investment relations.
As a Least Developed Country, Laos benefits from the most favourable regime available under the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences, namely the Everything But Arms scheme.
The Everything But Arms scheme gives the 48 Least Developed Countries - including Laos - duty free access to the EU for exports of all products, except arms and ammunition.
The EU is committed to fair trade and open markets. It is the world’s largest trading partner and the main destination for exports from 130 countries worldwide. It therefore has a strong interest in creating conditions in which trade can prosper.
Facilitating trade is also an important part of the EU’s strategy to foster development and reduce poverty.
The EU cooperation also helps Laos develop its trade policy and capacity so as to maximise economic development and poverty reduction as well as to integrate into the world economy.
Trade cooperation in this regard aims at improving market access on a preferential basis and assisting the beneficiary country in improving the structures and means of exploiting this maret access.