Representatives from government, business and sector associations, as well as development partners, are this week gathering in the capital of the Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic to explore opportunities and challenges in the wood processing sector – including the manufacture of wood furniture, sheets and laminated wood, and other products. Top of their agenda is the design of a market-oriented roadmap to enable the country to expand its processed wood exports to other countries in the region and beyond in the coming five years.
Using a consultative approach, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce’s Department of Industry and Handicrafts is leading work on the roadmap in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and with the support of the International Trade Centre (ITC).
The development of the roadmap is a part of ARISE Plus, a four-year national component of the Enhanced ASEAN Regional Integration Support by the EU (ARISE) Plus programme. Funded by the European Union and implemented by ITC, ARISE Plus contributes to the integration of the Laotian enterprises into global value chains by providing targeted support to both the public and private sectors.
According to estimates by the ITC, the sector has an untapped export potential of $36 million. This growth could be even higher if the country diversifies its exports of furniture and other wood-based products.
Following this week’s meeting, a draft roadmap will be developed to provide a path toward improving competitiveness and enable the Lao Peoples’ Democratic Republic to capture more added value through in the wood processing sector. The roadmap will also identify target markets where demand closely matches the country’s supply capacities, and highlight what is needed to succeed in these markets.
In addition to its work in the wood-processing sector, ITC is providing support to the Laotian government to develop a roadmap for the country’s coffee sector.