VIENTIANE, LAO PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC (23 May 2022) — The Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI), supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), organized a national dialogue on improving the business environment today in Vientiane. The dialogue focused on the findings and recommendations of the LNCCI–ADB report, Provincial Facilitation for Investment and Trade (ProFIT) Index.

“Robust dialogue among all stakeholders at the national and subnational levels is important as it provides essential insights on improving the business environment,” said Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Manothong Vongsay. “This dialogue can help boost the introduction and growth of productive enterprises, and in so doing accelerate the Lao PDR’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The national dialogue discussed issues affecting private sector enterprises, including the regulatory environment, and identified potential solutions and areas for improvement. It underscored the importance of reforms by the government, such as those implemented through Prime Minister Order No. 02 of 2018 on improving business registration by providing tax identification numbers and enterprise registration certificates at the same time. The implementation of these reforms by subnational governments has reduced the cost and processing time of business registration by one-third and should be used as a building block for further initiatives.

“It is crucial to have sound mechanisms in place to ensure quality dialogue between the public and private sectors as this leads to agile policy formulation and quality program implementation,” said ADB Country Director for the Lao PDR Sonomi Tanaka. “It also enhances transparency by allowing a space for stakeholders to share their concerns. ADB looks forward to continuing to support the government’s private sector and enterprise development through policy dialogue and knowledge operations.”

The joint LNCCI–ADB report was launched on 31 March with support from the People’s Republic of China Poverty Reduction and Regional Cooperation Fund. It focuses on six key areas: ease of starting a business, transparency and access to information, regulatory burdens, informal charges, consistency in policy implementation, and business friendliness of provincial administrations. The report recommends the reduction and simplification of regulatory requirements to make company registration easier, improve transparency, and remove informal charges levied on enterprises.

A companion LNCCI–ADB report finds that women-led enterprises in the Lao PDR face greater challenges in accessing business-critical information. About 30% of businesses run by women report to have access to procedures and forms for coordination with the government or access to information on public procurement opportunities. The report urges the government to train staff to overcome hidden gender biases and make it easier for women to create and run businesses.

The national dialogue was co-chaired by Mr. Vongsay, LNCCI President Oudet Souvannavong, and ADB Director General for Southeast Asia Ramesh Subramaniam. About 150 participants from the public and private sectors as well as development partners joined the dialogue in person and online.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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