Posted at Zambo Times on Tuesday, January 31. 2012
VIENTIANE, 30 January 2012 – The roadmap for the establishment of a Lao National Single Window (NSW) for faster customs clearance and linking it to the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) was launched at the workshop in Vientiane last week.
The workshop provided the forum to present and discuss a roadmap for developing the Lao NSW and seek input and feedback from both the relevant government agencies and the private sector.
The workshop also provided the opportunity for these two parties to arrive at a common understanding of the various trade facilitation initiatives in Lao PDR and to take onboard private sector interests.
The Vice Minister of Finance of Lao PDR, H.E. Mr. Santiphab Phomvihane, stated that “Lao PDR is committed to the success of the ASEAN Single Window initiative, which aims to increase trade and ease of doing business among ASEAN countries and with external partners outside the region.
Lao PDR will fulfill its commitments to develop a NSW that can support the greater ASW effort.” He emphasized that a NSW was critical to the country’s economic development and regional integration objectives.
ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General for ASEAN Economic Community, H.E. Mr. Sundram Pushpanathan, added that while several ASEAN Member States have made substantial strides in establishing their respective NSWs, “it is just as critical to ensure that others who are now launching their NSW programs, like Lao PDR, are also taking steps to realize the advantages when the ASEAN Single Window comes online.”
The World Bank Doing Business Survey shows that it takes a Lao trader 48 days on average to conclude an export transaction and 50 days for an import transaction, while the ASEAN average is 21 days for both indicators. Through a NSW, traders electronically submit forms for export, import, and transit procedures only once, and they are processed and cleared by multiple government agencies in an integrated process. As a result there are substantial gains to the private sector in terms of time and cost savings.
At the regional level, Lao PDR and other ASEAN member states have agreed to establish their NSWs and to link them subsequently to the ASW to further integrate the region’s economies and promote competitiveness. The ASEAN Single Window is a cornerstone in the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.
The U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN, H.E. Mr. David Carden, speaking during the opening ceremony commented, “It is heartening to see Lao PDR take this important step towards both faster economic growth and increased integration within ASEAN.” He further added that “The United States is pleased to support this and other trade facilitation programs in ASEAN, which we believe will help ASEAN reach its goal of a stable, prosperous, and competitive economic community by 2015.”
The workshop was conducted in partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the ASEAN Secretariat, the Lao Customs Department, and the Ministry of Finance.