The Ministry of Planning and Investment and the European Union held today the biannual Lao PDR-EU Cooperation Working Group that aims at reviewing ongoing bilateral cooperation and explore opportunities and confirm priorities for future cooperation. The Working Group was co-chaired by Mrs Sisomboun Ounavong, Director General of the Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Planning and Investment, and Mr. Jorge de la Caballeria, Head of Unit for South and South East Asia in the Directorate for Asia, Central Asia, Middle East/Gulf and Pacific of the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, European Commission.
The Cooperation Working Group discussed in details current and future mechanisms to support Laos' objective to graduate from the Least Development Countries List by 2020. Useful exchanges have notably allowed for assessing Lao PDR's progress made on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well on the implementation of the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP – 2016-2020) and its alignment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
On this occasion H.E Dr. Kikeo Chanthaboury, Vice Minister to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and the European Union Ambassador Mr Leo Faber announced their commitment to successfully implement three Financing Agreements providing 60.5 million EUR on Food and Nutrition Security, Governance and Rule of Law, and to reduce the impact of Unexploded Ordinances. The event has been witnessed by our joint partners AFD, GIZ, KfW, UNDP and UNICEF.
''As Lao PDR moves towards graduation from the Least Developed Countries in the near future, we see our cooperation as instrumental to support Lao's efforts for this graduation ambition. This will mean focusing on key Sustainable Development Goals, notably on education and nutrition, and striving for inclusive development by reaching the most remote areas as well as the disadvantaged groups'' Mr Leo said.
''This year the EU and the Lao PDR celebrate the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Cooperation Agreement and therefore I am pleased to support the successful implementation of these new Financing Agreements'' H.E Dr. Kikeo said.
The Working Group was also an occasion to share views on the European Joint Programming, a mechanism of cooperation the EU and its Member States, along with Switzerland, have adopted together with the Lao Government so as to deliver aid more effectively through a sound division of labour and close alignment with the 8th NSEDP’s priorities. Within this programme the EU has decided to focus on three areas, namely Nutrition, Education and Governance for the period 2016-2020. In total the EU will allocate some 207 million Euros for the period of 2014-2020. All of the discussions held today provided for fruitful exchanges with important contributions coming from both sides.
The two co-chairs will report on the discussions held today to the Joint Committee that will take place tomorrow, 17 February 2017, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.