Local and international traders will be able to find out which Lao products they can buy or sell by visiting a trading information centre at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
Trade Promotion and Product Development Acting Director General, Mr Somvang Niththavong, said on Monday the department had opened the information centre so that local and foreign traders can get information on agricultural products available in Laos.
“Traders who want to know what crops Laos grows are advised to visit us. We can tell them what the crops and products are and how much is produced, and where they can be bought,” he said.
Mr Somvang said the information provided is of a general nature and is updated annually. The department will advise traders and they can then learn more about the products from the sectors concerned. The department will also facilitate meetings between business operators, local officials and product makers.
“We are the starting point for traders. We will provide the basic information after which a business operator can meet with the party concerned,” he said.
The centre provides information on maize, rubber, green tea, rice, alcoholic drinks, sesame oil, iodised salt, lemongrass oil, teak, carved wood items, soybeans, textiles, silk products, and cassava.
Other potential products of interest to traders are agarwood, green bananas, pigs, cement, sugar, Chinese cabbage, cabbage, coffee, and traditional costumes.
Mr Somvang said the department would not only provide traders with information on potential product availability but could also explain the basic investment opportunities available in Laos. For example, investors are encouraged to grow rice in line with the government's ‘two plus three' policy.
This policy aims to encourage investors to work with local people to grow crops. Under the two plus three system, farmers provide land and labour while the investor provides funding, technical assistance and marketing opportunities.
Mr Somvang also said that with assistance from Japan, the department had set up the website buyasean.jp/lao, creating a new channel for small and medium sized enterprises to advertise their products.
The website provides international traders, especially in Japan, with basic information on a number of agricultural and handicraft products available in Laos. The website also gives the address and contact number of product makers so that orders can be placed.
At present, about 200 products are listed on the website. Producers have been taught how to post their products online so they can access international markets, especially Japan, where the demand for handicrafts, organic vegetables and livestock is high.
The information centre is located on Khounboulom Road near Sihom square in Chanthabouly district, Vientiane. The telephone numbers are (856)-216293 and 216207, and the P.O. Box number is 4107.