WTO Entry Offers Legal, Regulatory Benefits to Laos
Clouse, Thomas, Global Finance
The Lao People's Democratic Republic will take the final step in its 15-year campaign to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) this month when the country's legislature ratifies its membership agreement.The small, landlocked southeast Asian nation will become the 158th member of the WTO and the final country of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to join. The WTO approved Laos's application in late October, and the country will officially join 30 days after the government ratifies its membership agreement.
Laos's economy has grown at an average rate of 8% since 2006 and will likely expand by 8.3% this year, according to estimates from the International Monetary Fund. Agriculture is still the primary industry, accounting for more than 30% of GDP and around 75% of employment. Mining and hydroelectric projects have contributed much of die recent growth.
Despite rapid growth, the country's entry into the WTO is not generating as much excitement among investors as that of its neighbors, such as Vietnam, which joined in 2007. …