A delegation of 4 leading U.S. companies organized by the US-ASEAN Business Council visited the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to meet with various agencies of the government and explore how U.S. companies can support Laos’ Chairmanship of ASEAN, as well as discuss how Laos can harness the benefits of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). The delegation was led by Ambassador Michael Michalak, Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director of the US-ASEAN Business Council and Desarack Teso, Director, Corporate, External & Legal Affairs for Microsoft, Chair of the Council’s Laos Committee.
“We are excited to return to Vientiane during this important year for Laos as ASEAN Chair,” said Ambassador Michael Michalak. “This mission aims to continue to strengthen the relationship between the Lao Government and the U.S. business community, and explore further areas for collaboration to promote international investment, build competitiveness within the AEC, and grow Lao small and medium enterprises.”
The visit began with a capacity building program for Lao entrepreneurs on Utilizing Digital Tools for Smarter Business. The program was organized by the US-ASEAN Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs, a partnership between the Council and USAID. The event, held at the American Center, was supported by both the U.S. Embassy and the Lao Ministry of Industry and Commerce’s Department for SME Promotion. Experts from Microsoft and Visa offered training on cloud computing, communication and marketing tools, and electronic payments to 50 Lao entrepreneurs.
“Digital literacy and the use of modern technology tools such as cloud computing are vital for businesses to compete in today’s digital economy, and such knowledge and skills can empower SMEs to compete with larger businesses. Microsoft is committed to help empowered SMEs to achieve more through various global programs including Microsoft YouthSpark,” stated Desarack Teso
The delegation also met with government officials including H.E. Khemmani Pholsena, Minister of Industry and Commerce, H.E. Dr. Khammany Inthirath, Minister of Energy and Mines, H.E. Hiem Phommachanh, Minister of Posts and Telecommuications, H.E. Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, Vice Minister of Finance, H.E. Bounthavy Sisouphanthong, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment, Ms. Vathana Dalaloy, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Lao PDR and Dr. Nao Boutta, Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Health.
Companies participating in the delegation include Microsoft, the Coca-Cola Company, Ford Motor Company and Visa.