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Australia's $4M 'Aid For Trade' Package For Laos

Bob Mcmullan MP
Parliamentary Secretary For International Development Assistance
Member For Fraser

Australia Announces $4 Million 'Aid for Trade' Package

The Minister for Trade, Simon Crean, today met the Lao Minister of Industry and Commerce, Dr Nam Viyaketh, who is visiting Australia as a Guest of the Government.

While in Canberra, Dr Nam met the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, and the Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson.

Australia has a longstanding and positive relationship with Laos. Australia is a supporter of Lao efforts to open and reform its economy. As part of this process, Laos is seeking to accede to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Mr Crean noted that Australia is pleased to chair the Working Group which is guiding Laos WTO accession process.

Mr Crean and Dr Nam discussed the ASEAN-Australia and New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) negotiations. Both ministers reaffirmed their strong commitment to conclude negotiations in August.

Mr Crean and Dr Nam discussed the important role that Australian resources companies are making to the strong growth of the Lao economy.

To mark Dr Nam's visit, Australia announced a four-year $4.15 million initiative to strengthen the Lao Government s capacity to alleviate poverty through increased trade and investment, via two components.

Australia, together with the World Bank and European Union, will support the implementation by the Lao Government, of a new Trade Development Facility which aims to enhance trade and investment policy and institutions. The Facility will focus on building export competitiveness, supporting trade facilitation, improving the business environment, strengthening trade policy and trade agreements engagement and pursuing trade opportunities for the poor.

In collaboration with the World Bank and UNDP, Australia will also extend current assistance aimed at supporting Laos integration of trade policy into its broader development plans and enhancing the coordination of trade sector development assistance.

'These initiatives are an important element of Australia's broader development program in Laos which is estimated to be $27.8 million dollars in 2008-09, said Mr McMullan. 'The Australian aid program supports the Government of Laos to improve basic education and education management, strengthen trade and investment facilitation, and reduce the vulnerability of the rural poor.

ENDS

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