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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 26 October 2012

EU welcomes Laos planned accession to the World Trade Organisation

Today the European Commission has backed fully the decision by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to give its green light for the accession of Laos. Laos will become the 158th member of the global trade body once the full accession process is completed.

"Ahead of the ASEM Summit in Vientiane, the EU is very pleased to welcome Laos as a new member of the WTO" said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. "Recently, the WTO has put the spotlight on the important role for least-developed countries in the multilateral trading system. This is fully in line with the European Union's belief that trade is a key driver to boost the economies of developing countries".

After Vanuatu and Samoa, Laos (Lao People's Democratic Republic or LAO PDR) is set to be the third Least Developed Country (LDC) to join the WTO over the past two years. By providing financial assistance in various trade fields, the EU has been supporting the country throughout its accession process. In the years to come, the EU will remain an important trade partner for Laos providing support after its accession and ensuring its full integration into the multilateral trading system.

Following the decision by the WTO General Council, which is composed of all WTO Member States, Laos will have to ratify its accession package by 24 April 2013. 30 days after the ratification date, it will become a full member of the WTO.

Background

Since its request for accession in 1997, Laos has engaged in a process of reform to make its legislative and administrative structures consistent with the WTO framework. Transitional periods will apply regarding technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures and intellectual property rights in line with the guidelines by the WTO General Council on the accession of Least Developed Countries (LDCs).The average most-favoured nation tariff rate applied on industrial goods is around 18.7% and 19.3% on agricultural goods. Furthermore, Laos took specific commitments in services in accordance with its LDC status.

EU- Laos Trade in facts and figures

  • As a least-developed country, Laos benefits in the EU from the Everything But Arms Initiative (EBA). Under this most favourable regime of the EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), the EU grants Laos full duty-free, quota-free access to its Single Market for all originating products, except arms.

  • In 2011, total Laos exports to the EU were valued at €221 million. EU exports to Laos amounted to €197.4 million.

  • The EU is Laos' fourth most important trading partner (5,23%), after Thailand (52,8%), China (17,9%) and Vietnam (8,4%).

Further information

EU trade relations with ASEAN:

http://ec.europa.eu/trade/creating-opportunities/bilateral-relations/regions/asean/

Laos' WTO accession negotiations:

http://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/acc_e/a1_laos_e.htm

Contacts :

John Clancy (+32 2 295 37 73)


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