The Ministry of Industry and Commerce has directed the departments of industry and commerce throughout the country to stop issuing import licences for steel and cement.
In the future, imports of steel and cement will be regulated by customs officials at border crossings in line with the regulations.
The move follows the Prime Minister’s Ordinance on Regulatory Amendment and Coordination Mechanism of Business Operations in Laos, No. 02/PMO, dated February 1, 2018, on trade across borders and will be implemented by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce under order No.1364/MOIC.DIMEX dated September 28, 2018.
The ordinance is part of efforts by the government to speed up and streamline business operations in Laos.
The Department of Import and Export under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce has drawn up a plan to cut the number of procedures, the time involved and the complementary documents needed for import and export permits by 50 percent by 2020.
The department and relevant sectors are currently discussing which documents will no longer be necessary with regard to import and export licences.
It is hoped that less red tape and greater government transparency will result in the improvement of Laos’ international competitive ranking and ease-of-doing-business ranking, particularly the “Trading across Border” indicator.
Waiving the need for an import licence for steel and cement is considered to be one such measure that would improve ease of doing business in Laos and create a more favourable investment climate.
The department recently announced the implementation of a service charter that aims to enhance the efficiency of its services. It plans to introduce electronic systems that will facilitate trade three-fold by 2025.
The department’s service charter indicates that the time taken for each service, particularly the handwritten issuing of import and export licences for vehicles, fuel and diamonds, will be cut from two days to one day by 2019, and then from one day to half a day through the electronic system or Lao National Single Window.
The latest annual ratings published by the World Bank place Laos at 141 among 190 economies in terms of ease of doing business.
The government will do more to break down the barriers that currently hamper business operators and hope to reduce Laos’ ease-of-doing- business ranking from the current three digits to two digits by 2020.