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Conclusion of ‘Everything But Arms’ Engagement Workshop

The 2-days workshop on Laos EBA Engagement hosted by the GSP Hub project in cooperation together with the EU Delegation to Lao PDR was held on 16 – 17 September 2021 participated by more than 150 participants from different ministries and public authorities, private sector, civil society and academia.

The meeting was chaired by H.E. Ms Ina Marčiulionytė, EU Ambassador to Lao PDR, and H.E. Mr Khampheng Xaysompheng, Minister of Industry and Commerce along with 15 speakers and panelists from the International Trade Center, Delegation of the European Union to Thailand, European Commission, ILO Country Office for Thailand, Cambodia and Lao PDR, European Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Laos as well as the representative from Entrepreneurship who exports to the EU market, Mascot International Lao Sole Co., Ltd.

The workshop presented participants on how to export to the EU market by using the Everything But Arms (EBA), a trade preference provided duty free and quota free to Least Developed Countries. H.E Ms. Ms Ina Marčiulionytė emphasized the importance of opportunities and challenges of the EBA, trade preference for LDCs including Laos which significantly contribute to Laos economy in terms of export growth.

Both sessions focus on EBA preferences and how Lao PDR could further leverage the benefits and opportunities the EBA provides as well as perspective on how the trade relationship between the EU and Lao PDR could be structured following LDC graduation. The workshop also discussed about EBA as an incentive for European investments in the country. The discussion covered additional trade opportunities with a special focus on sustainable agricultural products. Speakers from the European Commission’s DG Trade and the ILO introduced participants to the GSP+, an arrangement that would allow Lao exporters to maintain preferential market access. However, the benefits of the GSP+ are bound to the ratification and effective implementation of 27 international conventions on human and labour rights, environmental protection, and good governance.

On behalf of the European Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lao PDR, Mr. Peter Fogde as a president and Poul Skov Petersen from Mascot International as one of ECCIL members had joined the discussion as well as answering to questions from participants which could provide more information regarding the business environment of European investments in Laos and experiences on export to EU market on the ground.