Introduction: Party’s foreign policy boosts international friendships. This special report, highlighting achievements in foreign affairs, international relations and cooperation, is one of a series marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party on March 22.

Story: In the decades that the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party has been implementing its consistent foreign affairs policy, Laos has made a large number of friends and the country’s profile has been enhanced in the regional and international arenas.

Thanks to this wise policy, which advocates peace, independence, friendship and cooperation with nations across the globe, especially since the Party’s decision to open up to external cooperation in 1986, Laos has enjoyed strong relations and cooperation with the outside world.

So far, Laos has established diplomatic relations with 137 countries, an increase from just 43 countries in 1975 when the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) was proclaimed.

This independent and peaceful foreign policy has actively contributed to positive international relations. It has created conditions favourable for the peace, stability and cooperation required to raise the status of Laos in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Listing Laos’ achievements under its foreign affairs policy, the minister said the policy was based on “mutual respect and shared interests”.

Laos’ external cooperation has been carried out through both bilateral and multilateral frameworks including cooperation within Asean – the 10-member regional bloc of which Laos is a member – along with cooperation with greater Mekong sub-region frameworks among others.

Laos is a member of many international organisations including the United Nations, Association of Southeast Asia Nations (Asean), Non-Aligned Movement, Landlocked Developing Countries, and International Organisation of the Francophonie.

The success of Laos’ foreign affairs policy has enhanced international trust in Laos. This has been reflected through Laos’ hosting of many regional and international conferences, summits, and other events in recent years.

In 2004, Laos hosted the 10th Asean Summit and three years later the Francophonie ministerial meeting. Last year, the 35th General Assembly of the Asean Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) was also held in Laos.

The most significant events hosted by Laos took place in 2012 when the country hosted the Seventh Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting, the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 9) and related meetings.

During the ASEM 9, 16 presidents and prime ministers from the ASEM 9 participating countries called on President Choummaly Sayasone, setting a precedent concerning the number of foreign heads of state and government leaders visiting a Lao leader.

Hosting the 25th Southeast Asia Games (SEA Games) in 2009 was another historic event for Laos.

The year 2012 saw the turning of yet another page in Lao history in relation to external trade cooperation when Laos was admitted to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Accession to the WTO offers great opportunities for Laos to attract more investment, boost trade and gain greater access to world markets in addition to the existing markets and trade privileges that Laos already enjoys. Statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce show that Laos has market access opportunities under unilateral and reciprocal preferences from 47 developed and developing countries.

As a least developed country, the Lao PDR is granted unilateral tariff preferences under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) from 36 countries including the European Union (EU), Australia, Belarus, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Russian Federation, Switzerland and Turkey.

Source: Lao National Television News in English
Broadcast on March 30, 2015