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The 10th Project Review Committee for RELATED and COMPETE GIZ-funded projects was held on 27th August 2020 to review the progress of the first eight months of 2020 and to endorse the work plan up to December 2020. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Phouvieng PHONGSA – Director General of Planning and Cooperation, MoIC, and Dr. Cristina SEEBERG – Head of Cooperation, German Embassy and was attended by GIZ line Ministries, the LNCCI and ECCIL.

The Regional Economic Integration of Laos into ASEAN, Trade and Entrepreneurship Development (RELATED) Project is a bilateral project of the Lao – German Development Cooperation to improve the AEC-related policy framework conditions and the capacities of the business sector for using economic potentials arising from Laos’ integration into the ASEAN Economic Community. The “Promotion of Competitiveness in the context of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration” (COMPETE) Project is a regional project of the ASEAN-German Development Cooperation. Both projects are part of the Trade and Private Sector Development Program of Lao PDR, coordinated by the Department of Planning and Cooperation at MOIC.

The COMPETE Project provided very useful guidance to the Lao Competition Commission in fostering a competition culture in general and in effectively enforcing the new competition law in Lao PDR. The Head of German Development Cooperation in Lao PDR, Dr. Christina Seeberg-Elverfeldt, also announced that two more projects of the ASEAN-German Development Cooperation started their activities in Lao PDR, namely “Promotion of Sustainable Agricultural Value Chains in ASEAN (ASEAN AgriTrade)” and “Strengthening Regional Structures for Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion in ASEAN (SME Promotion in ASEAN)”.

The implementation of both projects in the first eight months of 2020 was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures taken in the wake of COVID-19 have helped to prevent the virus from spreading in Laos, but they are associated with considerable negative economic consequences. In addition, due to preventive measures, events had to be postponed or cancelled. Working via distance became the “New Normal”.
Nevertheless, both projects made significant progress during the last months. Important results of the RELATED Project include its work on numerous regulations to facilitate intraregional trade and investments, the support to the launch of the Doing Business Reforms in Laos Action Plan 2020-2022, the assistance to the LNCCI Lao Private Sector Development Strategic Plan 2021–2025, the preparation of the establishment of a provincial SME Service Centre in Savannakhet Province, the organization of pest and disease management training courses for Lao coffee farmers and the extension of a Plastic Free Label for hotels and restaurants in Laos. As the key project of the Lao – German Development Cooperation in the area of Private Sector Development, RELATED also plays an important role to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Lao businesses.
As part of the Reform Strategy BMZ 2030 of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the RELATED Project will be phased out at the end of 2020.