May 8, 2014—The Lao PDR–U.S. International and ASEAN Integration Project officially started on April 24, 2014 after U.S. Ambassador Daniel Clune, Vice Minister of Industry and Commerce Siaosavath Savengsuka, and USAID/RDMA Mission Director Michael Yates (left to right in photograph) signed a memorandum of understanding.
Known as LUNA II, the project is a follow-on to LUNA I, which Nathan Associates managed from 2008-2013. The project will support Lao PDR in meeting World Trade Organization accession commitments, in achieving full membership in the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, and in continuing to meet requirements of the U.S.-Lao PDR Bilateral Trade Agreement. The project goal is to help the government institute trade and economic reforms that can stimulate job-creating investment, something essential to Lao PDR’s ultimate goal of achieving middle-income country status by 2020.
During LUNA I, Nathan Associates conducted 70 workshops, training 4,000 officials and business representatives on subjects ranging from intellectual property to standards for agricultural and industrial goods. Through Luna II, government officials will learn about best practices in legal reform and development of laws and policies, and how to comply with international and regional trading obligations. Likewise, businesses will learn how to take advantage of the world trading system and to advocate for reforms that improve the environment for business in Lao PDR. LUNA II will also continue helping Lao PDR to finalize its WTO accession commitments and to further develop its electronic gazette—a linchpin of sound governance and a requirement of most trade agreements. Draft legislation is posted on the e-gazette for public comment for 60 days, and new laws are posted for 15 days before coming into force.
LUNA II is a project of the United States Agency for International Development. It will be led by Ashok Menon, a principal associate with Nathan Associates and formerly deputy chief of party for the Support for Economic Analysis Development in Indonesia program and chief of party for the Mozambique Trade and Investment Project.