The Ministry of Industry and Commerce will place a greater focus on developing markets in the provinces and remoter parts of the country, according to a top trade policy maker.
Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Nam Vinhaket said on Monday the ministry will facilitate the building of markets in the provinces and remote areas of the country over the next five years, creating opportunities for farmers and business people to exchange goods and services and earn more income.
He also said the ministry would facilitate the organisation of trade fairs and exhibitions to stimulate market growth.
Xieng Khuang province is a good example of how to develop markets after the private sector stepped in to create markets, Dr Nam said. He also expressed appreciation to the investor in this sector, the Phoukham Group.
The Phoukham Group plans to hold a number of trade fairs in the province this year, with various themes. Next month the group will hold a silkworm trade fair, enabling the local community to exhibit their handicraft products.
Dr Nam said increasing trade opportunities in rural areas would inspire communities to produce goods not only for their own consumption but also for sale to local and overseas buyers, which is necessary to ensure a sufficient and reliable supply of goods to markets.
He admitted that many Lao people did not want to do business or produce goods for sale, so the sectors concerned needed to encourage them to do so. Economic growth will not be sustainable if people are reluctant to produce goods for sale.
“The private sector will become the main driving force of economic growth while the role of the state will be to facilitate business operation,” he said.
A survey showed that only 0.38 percent of the Lao population was engaged in business, posing a challenge for the country in sustaining economic growth. In Singapore, about 70 percent of the population are business people.
Dr Nam said the industry and commerce sector was doing more to implement the four ‘breakthrough' approaches outlined in the resolution of the 9th Party Congress. In recent years the ministry has relaxed import and export restrictions.
The ministry is also making it easier to obtain a business licence, with the set up of a one-stop application service enabling a licence to be issued within three days, he said.
The ministry has drawn up a list of open and controlled businesses, which makes it easier for commerce officials to issue a licence for a business listed in the open category.
According to trade officials, the ministry has also abolished the trade quota system, which required traders to get permission from the authorities before moving goods within Laos, which was a major barrier to domestic trade.