Launch of the Enhanced Integrated Framework Tier 2 project: Strengthening National Quality Infrastructure and Industrial Statistics in Lao PDR

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MoIC) launched on 21 January 2014 a new project to strengthen the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) (Component A) and Industrial Statistics (Component B) in Lao PDR. With this project, the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) continues its successful commitment in Lao PDR since 2006, starting under Tier 1 with extensive capacity building, support to trade mainstreaming and strategy, as well as helped in establishing the National Integrated Framework Governance Structure.

To implement the project activities, the EIF contributes US$2,520,350 between 2014 and 2016. The Government of Lao PDR supports this project with another US$871,200 in kind contribution. Grant recipient is, and overall implementation responsibility lies with, the EIF National Implementation Unit (NIU), Department of Planning and Cooperation, at the MoIC, and activities are implemented by the respective technical departments, namely the Department of Industry and Handicraft (DoIH), MoIC, and the Department of Standardization and Metrology, Ministry of Science and Technology.

“This EIF Tier 2 project is just another stepping stone for an improved business environment. While Component A addresses market access issues for the private sector through providing better access to certification and testing services, Component B aims to enhance the institutional capacity of the Department of Industry and Handicraft to establish the conditions for policy-oriented statistical analysis on the manufacturing sector” said Mr Sirisamphanh Vorachith, Director General of the Department of Planning and Cooperation, MoIC.

Component A is to strengthen the NQI to address market access issues for the private sector through providing better access to certification and testing services. As these services are presently carried out abroad, mainly in Thailand and Vietnam, for Lao traders, these services are expensive and time-consuming and require lots of logistical efforts. This puts Lao traders at a disadvantage and prevents the private sector from tapping into new markets and participating in regional and global supply and value chains. This project will strengthen the national system so services in high demand (that can be offered on a cost- and time competitive basis) can be carried out domestically. In addition, the project aims to increase the quality, safety and reliability of domestically offered products and services, and to improve competitiveness through implementing national standards and technical regulations and formulating and implementing viable industrial development policies based on systematic, comparable and action-oriented country analysis.

Component B is to support the enhancement of industrial statistics and aims to enhance the institutional capacity of the DoIH of the MoIC for carrying out policy-oriented statistical analysis on the country’s manufacturing sector by establishing an integrated central statistical information system within the DoIH and training for staff in the areas of research, statistical analysis and information technology.

In Lao PDR, the EIF became active in 2006 and, since then, has contributed to significantly advance the present trade and private sector development programme. The EIF is a global Aid-for-Trade partnership involving donors, Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and international organizations to assist LDCs in tackling obstacles to trade. The EIF activities are financed through a global multi donor trust fund, the EIF Trust Fund. The main objectives of the EIF are to:

- Mainstream trade into national development strategies;

- Set up structures needed to coordinate the delivery of Trade-related Technical Assistance; and

- Build capacity to trade, which also includes addressing critical supply-side constraints.