Officials from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam met on Tuesday (3 Feb 2015) in Vientiane to discuss the progress and challenges of the Lao pilot program for narrowing the development gap towards Asean integration.
The program was formulated as a pilot project in October 2010 by the Lao government, Asean Secretariat and Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as a tripartite cooperation. It is a 5-year project and aims to help new Asean member states to implement their commitment in realising the Asean Economic Community (AEC) by 2015.
Lao Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Bounthavy Sisouphanthong, who chaired the meeting, said this was the third meeting since the program was initiated in 2010, according to The Vientiane Times.
It was an important platform to enhance awareness and understanding about various key tasks in preparation for Asean integration, especially the readiness of Laos relative to the challenges and progress experienced by Vietnam and Cambodia in accessing the AEC later this year.
Dr Bounthavy said Laos needed to play a more important role in three particular areas, namely tourism, the environment and agriculture, to achieve fruitful AEC integration.
The meeting is part of the capacity building of Lao government officials and the private sector in Laos, to enable them to deal effectively with issues concerning Asean integration.
Chief Representative of the JICA Laos Office, Mr Koichi Takei, said the program is a pilot project to test the joint working mechanism among development partners, Asean and Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, to realise the Initiative for Asean Integration agenda.
“If this mechanism is utilised in Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam, we’d like to believe it will further contribute to narrowing the development gap towards Asean Integration,” Mr Takei said.