February 05, 2013

Lao WTO Membership - 15 Years in the Making

February 2, 2013 marks the official day that Lao PDR has finally joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).  It originally sought membership 15 years ago on July 16 1997 when the application was originally received by the WTO.

World Trade Organization WTO logo

Why 15 years?  In joining the WTO there are rules and conditions that must be met.  Many of them involve adding, adjusting or creating new rules and regulations.  For example, health and food regulations, transparency, non-discrimination, establishment of one point of contact, intellectual property laws, trade restrictions and border trade issues, price controls, mediation of conflicts, importing/exporting rules, introducing competition, among many other items.  In all, over 90 laws and regulations were either amended or enacted to conform to WTO compliance, according to accession documents. 

Ultimately for Laos, accession should encourage further trade and increase foreign direct investment.  And with that, hopes of further development, prosperity and getting off the least developed countries (LDCs) list.

Lao PDR is the last member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to join the WTO. 

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