THE Ministry of Finance in Laos has announced it has adopted a new Asean tariff code, giving a signal that Laos is ready to become part of the single regional market of 600 million consumers.
According to the announcement, posted on the Lao Trade Portal, an official website that provides information on trade services, Laos has put into practice the Asean Harmonised Tariff Nomenclature 2017 since May.
The adoption of the Asean tariff code is in line with the Lao government’s policy to implement regional obligations to which the country is committed, the finance ministry said in its announcement.
The updated version of the Asean tariff code provides a clearer definition of goods and services in which Asean member countries are trading. This will make it easier for Lao customs officials to implement the government policy to facilitate cross-border trade and become part of the regional market.
In the past, customs officials faced difficulties in levying tariffs and taxes on particular goods from Asean countries as there was no single definition of the goods and tariff code. In the past, Asean member countries defined tariff codes differently.
Observers said the establishment of the single Asean tariff code is considered the most important mechanism and tool to facilitate the free flow of goods within the grouping. Customs officials in the region have agreed on the single definition of the goods, they added.
Asean agreed to establish the region as a single market where goods and services are allowed to flow freely. However, the free movement of goods will be impossible without a single tariff code, they said.
They said the adoption of the single tariff code will help the region to end non-tariff barriers and facilitate the free flow of goods.
Asean has also agreed to eliminate tariffs as part of efforts to promote free trade.
Laos has already eliminated tariffs on a number of goods but as one of the newest Asean members, the country has been allowed to extend its tariffs on strategic goods for a while.
Over the past few years, the Lao government has been active in integrating its economy into the region and the world, hoping this will attract foreign investment so that the country can generate jobs and greater income.
The Lao government believes foreign investment is one of the driving forces of economic growth and poverty reduction. The country became a member of WTO in 2013. Over the past few years, Laos has adjusted its laws and economic policies to meet international standards.