Increasing exports to the European Union using trade preferences of the “Everything But Arms”
165 participants take part in virtual “EBA Engagement Workshop”
How to export to the EU market using trade preferences? This question stood at the centre of the 2-day workshop hosted by the GSP Hub project in cooperation with the EU Delegation to Lao PDR on 16 and 17 September 2021.
The virtual “EBA Engagement Workshop” introduced participants to the “Everything But Arms” (EBA) which grants Least Developed Countries duty-free and quota-free access to the European market and thereby supports export growth and income generation in the beneficiary countries.
The meeting was chaired by H.E. Ms Ina Marčiulionytė, EU Ambassador to Lao PDR, and H.E. Mr Khampheng Xaysompheng, Minister of Industry and Commerce. “It is important to better understand the available opportunities and remaining challenges for target markets of the EBA”, H.E. Ms Ina Marčiulionytė stated acknowledging the objectives of the workshop. H.E. Mr Khampheng Xaysompheng further highlighted that "the EBA has contributed significantly to the growth of the Lao economy, and has enabled us to access the EU market and pursue modern development."
Together with 15 speakers from the European Union and Lao PDR, participants discussed the relevance of the “Everything but Arms” for exports to the European Union but also as an incentive for European investments in the country. The discussion also covered additional trade opportunities with a special focus on sustainable agricultural products. Speakers emphasised that new trade strategies become particularly important in view of Lao PDR’s upcoming graduation from the LDC category, which will go along with a graduation from the EBA scheme after a three-year transition period. Speakers from the European Commission’s DG Trade and the ILO introduced participants to the GSP+, an arrangement that would allow Lao exporters to maintain preferential market access. The benefits of the GSP+ are, however, bound to the ratification and effective implementation of 27 international conventions on human and labour rights, environmental protection, and good governance.
The two-day workshop was attended by in total 165 participants from different ministries and public authorities, the private sector, civil society, and academia.
More information about the GSP Hub and the Everything But Arms/ Generalised Scheme of Preferences can be found here: www.gsphub.eu.