U.S. Supports Customs Department Initiative

Senior officials from the Lao PDR, Customs Department take part at the workshop in Vientiane to strengthen customs systems.

With support from the U.S. Embassy the Lao Customs Department, Ministry of Finance and American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA-ROLI) conducted a workshop for senior officials from the Lao PDR Customs Department on strengthening customs systems.

The two-day workshop began on May 26.

At the opening, speakers noted the importance of this cooperation.  “This is a new area in which we are working together, but it is an important one,” said Mr. Somphit Sengmanivong, Deputy Director General of the Customs Department.

U.S. Embassy representative Noah Geesaman said the U.S. government was proud to support the Customs Department’s request to organize this training.

“We are glad that with partners like ABA-ROLI, we can support the leadership of the Customs Department in its efforts to build a stronger, more efficient, and more modern service that will help the Lao economy to continue to grow,” he said.

The Lao PDR Customs Departments and customs officials around the world provide a vital national service by ensuring safe and efficient trade, collecting government revenue, and improving national security by preventing illegal trade in drugs, weapons, wildlife, and other contraband.

During the two-day workshop, senior officials examined ten international best practices on preventing fraud, revenue loss, and corruption.  Participants identified specific reforms to strengthen processes and eliminate risks of malfeasance.  At the conclusion of the workshop, senior officials also provided recommendations on key elements of a modern Code of Conduct for all Lao Customs Department staff.