Lao PDR advances with AEO implementation

04 September 2019

The World Customs Organization (WCO), with support from the World Bank Group (WBG), conducted an ‘Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) Validation Training Course’ for Lao People’s Democratic Republic from 26 to 30 August 2019 in Vientiane.

This course was aimed at developing Lao Customs Department’s capacity to effectively examine, validate, and grant an AEO status to compliant, secure and trusted economic operators, with a view to support the implementation of an AEO programme in line with the provisions of the SAFE Framework of Standards and Article 7.7 of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (TFA). 

In his opening remarks, Mr. Bounchom Oubonpaseuth, Deputy Minister of Finance, highlighted the need for creating harmonized and favourable conditions for trade facilitation in Lao PDR. “I truly appreciate the support from the WCO and the WBG to organize this training. This initiative would help concerned officials and the private sector to enhance their knowledge and skills concerning AEO validation and authorization process for a harmonized and standardized implementation of an AEO programme” said Mr. Bounchom Oubonpaseuth.

Experts explained various aspects of the overall AEO validation process namely pre-validation, on-site validation and post-validation, and offered practical aspects with best practices and case studies. Throughout the training, the participants were actively involved in group discussions and exchanged views on specific issues and potential solutions concerning the implementation of an AEO programme that is best suited to Lao PDR. 

The Lao PDR Customs Department started work on establishing an AEO programme in 2017, which is being supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), World Bank Group. In April this year, a Ministerial Instruction No. 1159 has been issued, detailing AEO criteria, requirements, benefits, and associated procedure on the management of the programme. As Lao PDR is planning to launch its AEO programme, this training course helped Customs officials to gain insights into AEO examination, validation and authorization procedures. This acquired knowledge and skills would significantly assist Lao PDR to create favourable conditions for compliant businesses and secure and facilitate legitimate trade.

Twenty (20) officers from Lao Customs Department benefited from this training. Participants from other government agencies such as Commerce, agriculture, fisheries, planning, and food and drugs, as well as representatives from the private sector also attended some modules of the training course.

Going forward, Lao PDR commits to implement an AEO programme by the end of 2019, inviting importers and exporters to join the programme in the first phase that will be expanded to include other economic operators in future.

During the week, Lao Customs Department launched an AEO football team, being first of its kind in the world, in its inter-departmental football competition. The AEO team, wearing the AEO logo on its jersey, beat Enforcement 10-9 in an exhilarating match!