Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR, October 29 — For the second consecutive year, the United States, in partnership with the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) and Ministry of Industry and Commerce, convened a Lao-specific forum in parallel with the Indo-Pacific Business Forum taking place in India. The half-day virtual event was co-chaired by U.S. Ambassador to the Lao PDR Dr. Peter M. Haymond and President of LNCCI Mr. Oudet Souvannavong. Participants included government officials, industry executives, businesses, and firms, as well as representatives from the U.S. Embassy and development partners.
The Lao Forum focused on digitalization as a means for COVID economic recovery. The Forum is a unique opportunity for business leaders from Lao PDR, Thailand, Cambodia, and the United States to exchange insights on digital trends and discuss how they can adapt and thrive to the new economic environment beyond COVID.
Ambassador Haymond highlighted the United States and Lao PDR government’s joint efforts to support businesses during this challenging time. “As part of the U.S.-Lao Comprehensive Partnership, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year, the United States is deeply committed to supporting the Lao PDR to not only address its current economic challenges, but also build back and prosper beyond COVID-19 in the years ahead.” said Ambassador Haymond.
“COVID has had an enormous impact on the Lao economy and Small and Medium Enterprises. It has accelerated efforts by businesses to digitize. Banks have launched digital services to enable flexible payment arrangements for their customers. Grocery stores, shops, and retailers have amended their business models to focus on online ordering and delivery services. Many schools and universities, especially in Vientiane, have shifted to online learning.” said Mr. Oudet.
The annual Indo-Pacific Business Forum, now in its fourth year, promotes trade, investment and economic cooperation between the United States and its partners throughout the Indo-Pacific region. This year’s regional event highlighted opportunities for U.S. companies and their Indo-Pacific partners to play a leading role in shaping the region’s economic development. This includes major U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Strategy initiatives related to economic recovery and resilience, climate action, and digital innovation.
The agenda included local and regional panel discussions with tech-companies such as LOCA, Food Panda and RDK Laos, LINE MAN Wongnai (Thai tech company), Boost (Cambodian microfinance digital technology startup), and SocialGiver (Thai tech company). The panel discussion topics included: “Enhancing the digital capabilities of Lao SMEs to accelerate recovery from COVID-19 and lay the groundwork for long-term business growth” and “How Technology Leaders are Innovating in the Face of COVID-19”. The event also included a virtual link to the regional Forum’s panel of Fortune 500 tech companies on cloud and cybersecurity, as well as a keynote speech from Google’s Business Lead for Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, who discussed Google’s initiatives related to COVID resiliency.