VIENTIANE, Lao PDR – Last week, Alexandria Huerta, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Laos Country Office Director recognized Lao officials for their participation and performance during a five-week course on English drafting, analysis, and editing skills. The course was designed specifically for officials who support regional trade negotiations on behalf of the Lao PDR.
“Building out and deepening the ASEAN Economic Community in line with its vision for 2020 will take a lot of negotiation, a lot of document drafting, and a lot of document editing,” Ms. Huerta noted in her remarks to participants. “It’s our goal to help Lao PDR fully participate in this effort and we hope this course has helped you more fully participate in this worthy effort.”
The lawyers and mid-level trade policy experts who participated in the course will soon serve on teams negotiating bilateral and multilateral agreements. After the lead negotiators complete their discussions, these lawyers and experts are responsible for producing a final negotiation document that both accurately reflects the intentions of the negotiators and the language and style of international legal agreements. Both the documents and the negotiations are typically conducted in the English language. For this reason, USAID’s counterparts within the Lao government requested a course that would focus on English skills for use during trade negotiations.
Led by a professional English language professor, the class tackled these challenges directly. Participants were assessed during the first week on their listening and editing skills, as well as trade-related vocabulary. The assessment allowed the instructor to adapt the course to the participants’ specific needs. Through role-playing scenarios and games, the course helped participants develop and utilize the technical English necessary to support such negotiations. Listening portions of the course included a recorded simulation of negotiations over amendments to key agreements of the ASEAN Economic Community. Vocabulary was tailored to the participants’ needs, paying special attention to trade terms and concepts. The course also covered drafting methods and styles, giving participants ample opportunity to practice their new skills as they learned.
This course was funded by the United States Government through the USAID’s Lao PDR-U.S. International and ASEAN Integration (LUNA II) project. The USAID LUNAII project helps Laos further integrate into the global economy by supporting officials to develop and implement sound, modern, transparent and inclusive economic policies and regulations.