Australia welcomes agreement on Laos's WTO entry

Media release

29 September 2012

Trade Minister Craig Emerson today welcomed the agreement of terms which will allow Laos to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), after 15 years of negotiations.

WTO Members will formally approve the accession agreement at a special General Council meeting in Geneva next month.

"Laos's membership of the WTO will be an important step in its economic development," Dr Emerson said.

"It signals Laos's commitment to economic reform and integration into the international trading system."

Australia has been an avid supporter of Laos's bid for WTO membership, contributing $4 million in technical assistance for the bid, and to help the country develop trade and investment expertise.

"WTO membership provides the incentives and the market access for least developed countries such as Laos to lift their people out of poverty," Dr Emerson said.

As part of its accession commitments, Laos has agreed to lower its import tariffs on goods, including on Australian exports such as specialised machinery and parts and pumps.

Developing exports in these elaborately manufactured products will help link Australia into regional value chains, which is vital to its economic diversification in the Asian century.

Laos has also agreed to liberalise conditions of access for service suppliers and allow majority foreign ownership of joint ventures.

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