The Lao government is endeavouring to stabilise the prices of various goods, including food items, against the backdrop of rising costs in the processing industry, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith advised the National Assembly (NA).
The value of traded goods in the first four months of the year stood at 15.500 trillion kip (1.775 billion), an increase of 11.8 per cent compared to the same period last year. The value represented 23.8 per cent of NA’s approved annual plan, Thongloun told the 7th Ordinary Session of NA’s legislature last week.
“The value of the processing industry and handicraft production touched 3.240 trillion kip, an increase of 33.6 per cent compared to the same period last year or 26.1 per cent of NA’s approved plan of 12.386 trillion kip,” he said.
He noted that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce had recently issued One District One Product (ODOP) certification to 18 products across six business units.
“Currently, the country comprises a total of 171 ODOP business units with 647 products,” Thongloun said.
Food items in Laos are more expensive as domestic production is still minimal, and the cost of financing capital is high. More investment is required to minimise imported products, according to the ministry.
Other factors effecting local production included the lack of advanced farming methods and modern equipment plus the relatively high cost of labour.
Food prices in Laos are generally steady, but some fruit and vegetables are subject to seasonal fluctuations.
However, the price of food items in Laos is still high compared to neighbouring countries, especially Thailand and Vietnam.
Transport costs and the quality of logistics play a key role in Laos firms’ ability to connect with regional and global value chains, according to a key finding of a World Bank report.
High transport costs can undermine the competitiveness of Laos’ private sector.
In the past, it has often been claimed that the cost of transport in Laos is higher than in the neighbouring countries. However, there is little evidence to back this up.
The World Bank report aimed to fill the gaps by investigating the costs and prices along several domestic transport routes. Transport operators were interviewed as part of the research.
To manage the price of staples and services, the government, especially the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, has new regulations in place and different decrees, decisions, rules and announcements for implementation.
The implementation requires cooperation with other ministries, provinces and at the local level in every sector. VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK