VIENTIANE, 23-24 June 2021
34 participants from the Lao PDR private sector, among others, representatives from the Business Women’s Association (BWA), Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), ASEAN-BAC Lao PDR, European Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lao PDR (ECCIL), Lao Handicraft Association, Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion Association of Lao PDR (Lao SME) and many entrepreneurs from the SME Sector, attended an outreach event on the ASEAN Trade Repository (ATR) and the ASEAN Solutions for Investments, Services and Trade (ASSIST) on 23 June 2021. This was followed by the ‘ASSIST Train-the-Trainers Workshop’ on 24 June 2021. The events were organized by the ASEAN Regional Integration Support from the European Union (ARISE Plus), in partnership and collaboration with the BWA. It was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Vientiane, with the ARISE Plus experts joining the event virtually.
The events aimed at creating greater awareness on the existence, functioning and trade facilitation benefits of the two primary trade facilitation instruments developed by ASEAN with support from ARISE Plus, known as ASSIST (for Trade in Goods and Trade in Services) and the ATR. Participants of the training workshop are expected to conduct future capacity building exercises on ASSIST to the benefit of their Lao PDR’s colleagues, members of their trade associations/business organizations, and fellow entrepreneurs.
“The private sector is instrumental to have a stable and flourishing economy, and women business leaders make economy more vibrant” said H.E. Ina Marčiulionytė, Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Lao PDR. She emphasized the importance of gender equality and women empowerment to the EU and to its international development programs, with 80% of them to include gender empowerment segments. She further encouraged the Lao PDR’s private sector, especially SMEs, to take full advantage of these two primary tools of ASEAN public-private cooperation and trade facilitation. Madame Chanthachone Vongsay, President of BWA (AWEN Focal Point for Lao PDR) and Vice President of LNCCI, stated that “These online tools, ATR and ASSIST, would be beneficial for entrepreneurs in ASEAN and Lao PDR to overcome the challenges in running their businesses during this ‘new normal’ time”.
The ARISE Plus Regional Project and the EU remain committed to supporting the effective implementation of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) through improved transparency, by assisting ASEAN to advance the development of the ATR in all ASEAN Member States. The ARISE Plus Regional Project will also remain available to work with the private sector to advance ASSIST by holding regular outreach and awareness creation events and training of trainers, in cooperation with the respective private sector stakeholders, gearing towards greater intra-ASEAN trade and regional economic integration.