Harnessing the potential of the private sector to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 in Lao PDR
10 September 2020
Vientiane, 10 September 2020 – Today, the Government of Lao PDR, Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), and the United Nations convened a highly productive interactive Thematic Policy Dialogue on “Trade, Private Sector, Value Chains and Tourism” as part of series of policy dialogues convened by a Multi-Stakeholder Taskforce examining the implications of COVID-19 in support of a recalibration of the 9th National Socio-economic Development Plan (NSEDP) and informing the SDG localization in the changing context.
A key element of Lao PDR’s long-term development vision is to tap the potential of its strategic location amongst some of the world’s fastest growing economies, through trade facilitation, greater integration into regional value chains and transforming itself from a landlocked to a land-linked country.
Yet the pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to trade flows and investment patterns. World trade is set to plummet between 13 and 32 per cent this year. Flows of Foreign Direct Investment globally are likely to fall by 30 to 40 per cent, and for developing countries in Asia by up to 45 per cent. COVID-19 has further created a spike in unemployment in Lao PDR as migrant workers returned home and large numbers of employees, especially female ones, were laid off following business closures.
In light of this, participants exchanged views on adjusting development strategies and remedial policies to mitigate the negative impacts of COVID-19, including policies and measures that could improve the business environment, support struggling Small-and-Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and release the potential of private sector in the recovery.
Co-chaired by Mr. Oudet Souvannavong, President of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry and UN Resident Coordinator Ms. Sara Sekkenes, the dialogue saw the participation of key stakeholders from the Ministry of Planning Investment, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the National Institute of Economic Research, and representatives from the Embassies of Canada and Japan, the EU delegation, Asian Development Bank, World Bank as well as several UN agencies in Laos, among others.
The Dialogue is the second of a series of policy discussion that have been organized upon the request of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, on behalf of the Government of Lao PDR. It acts as part of the support of the UN in collaboration with many stakeholders to identify the potential policy adjustments needed for the upcoming 5-year plan against the backdrop of the pandemic.
Upcoming dialogues next week will focus on Skill Development and Sustainable Employment; Human Capital; and Green Growth, Resilience and Risk Management.