THIS NEWS STORY is designed to help the public understand developments in the WTO. While every effort has been made to ensure the contents are accurate, it does not prejudice member governments’ positions.
Ms Rugwabiza’s visit to Laos — officially the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) — from 26 to 28 November 2012 was the first visit of a senior WTO official since the accession package of Laos was approved by the WTO General Council on 26 October. Once the Laos National Assembly ratifies the membership package, Laos would become the WTO’s 158th member.
Ms Rugwabiza stressed that WTO accession is an important achievement for both the WTO and Laos. For Laos, it is an important step in strengthening its objective of regional consolidation and further integrating with the global economy. For the WTO, Laos’ accession will take the organization a step further towards universal membership. It is also a sign of the WTO’s ability to deliver tangible results for least-developed countries.
During her visit, Ms Rugwabiza also spoke at a joint meeting organized by the WTO and the Assemblée Parlementaire de la Francophonie (APF) on development issues and women. Within this framework, a regional meeting for Asian Pacific Members of Parliament was held on WTO issues on 29-30 November.
“WTO accession is just the first step in integrating into the multilateral trading system,” said Ms Rugwabiza. “The post-accession phase could still be challenging. Laos needs to implement its WTO commitments and continue its legislative reforms. Local businesses have to speed up the pace to join global value chains, which require Laos businesses to develop their competitiveness.”
During her visit, Ms Rugwabiza met with Trade Minister Nam Viyaketh and Vice-Minister Madame Khemani, the chief negotiator for Laos’ accession. During both meetings, the post-accession possibilities for Laos were discussed, including trade capacity building and technical assistance needs.
Ms Rugwabiza also visited a garment facility in Vientiane. She noted that accession to the WTO would help address some of the main obstacles to trade for Laos industries, such as access to trade finance, the need for skilled labour and training as well as greater integration into regional value chains.
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