Negotiations for Laos' adherence to the WTO have been successfully concluded. Laos will have to approve the accession package by 24 April 2013 to become official member 30 days thereafter. Recent political statements from the Laotian government indicate that the country seeks completing the ratification before the deadline. FTA is a strong promoter of the country’s way to join the WTO structures and the opening to world trade.
Laos is expected to gain importance as a sourcing country for European trade. This is particularly true for clothing – recent years have witnessed a substantial growth of clothing exports to the EU from 109 million Euro in 2007 to 136 million Euro in 2011. The WTO membership will contribute to this development as both the accession process and the implementation of the WTO rulebook serve as a catalyst for the legal modernisation and economic opening of the country. These profound domestic reforms should lead to a higher level of transparency and predictability as well as better export conditions of Laotian products to Europe.
The WTO accession will obviously not affect the preferential customs regime for Laotian merchandise, which can be imported duty-free to the EU under the ‘Everything But Arms Initiative’ (EBA).