KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 28 — Malaysia sees Laos’ accession into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as further enhancing Asean’s efforts towards regional integration.
It also paves the way towards reaching the goal of becoming an Asean Economic Community in 2015.
Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamad said with all Asean members fully entrenched in the multilateral trading system, the regional grouping’s attractiveness as a trade and investment destination will be further boosted.
“I look forward to Laos’ ratification of the Accession Protocol, the final step in the accession process for the country to be a full-fledged member of the WTO.
“I also look forward to welcoming Laos as the 158th member of the WTO in the very near future,” he said in a statement today.
Mustapa said with the signing of the Protocol of Accession on Oct 26, the WTO General Council has officially agreed to Laos joining the organisation.
“It paves the way for the last member of the Asean family to join the WTO by early 2013.
“On behalf of Malaysia, I congratulate Laos for concluding the final step in a long and challenging journey towards WTO membership,” he added.
According to Mustapa, Laos began the process to join the WTO in 1997.
“Laos has undertaken domestic regulatory reforms to conform with the WTO rules. It has also undergone a massive transformation in the way it does business.
“It is understood that in the last 15 years, 90 laws and regulations were enacted across the board, tariffs bound at an average of 18.8 per cent for all products with market access commitments in 10 service sectors, covering 79 sub-sectors.
“These achievements are indeed commendable for this land-locked country with 6.5 million people,” he said.
Mustapa also said it was heartening to note that these efforts were done in parallel with the domestic reforms undertaken by Laos to meet its commitments under Asean’s robust economic agenda.
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