March 09, 2006, Vientiane Times

By Phonsavanh Vongsay

RIVALRY between businesses will be improved if Laos invokes further competition law, according to senior economic researcher on Tuesday.

The law will ensure that there is healthy competition between businesses, helping to raise the quality and quantity of production.

Acting Director General of the National Economic Research Institute (NERI), Dr. Leeber Leebouapao said at a training workshop on Business Competition Policy and Law in Laos on March 7 in Vientiane that neighbouring countries already had such laws.

Dr. Leeber said that Laos did not have any direct legislation in relation the business competition law, but it did have some regulations with regards to competition law.

He said that when there is high competition, it ensures products marketed ate of good quality and low price; consequently the benefits will go to local consumers. In addition, there will be benefits for producers with only minimal time and investment needed to make the necessary improvements.

Competition law will also help small producers grow, in addition to quality and modern production machinery. They will then be able to compete with foreign products.

Dr. Leeber said, “The competition law will help economic growth.”

Currently many consumer goods, which are produced locally by small producers, have not increased their market share, as they cannot compete with larger investors. Big investors have currently gained a monopoly in their sector, allowing them to keep prices high quality low. They also try to block other newcomers who want to invest in the same fields as them.

“This is why we are promoting business competition policy and law, in order to help ensure equality between businesses and to eliminate unfair trade practices,” Dr. Leeber added.

Vice president of the Committee for Planning and Investment, Dr. Lien Thikeo, said that business competition policy and law ate very important for Lao economic development. Currently development is based on a market economy, and to ensure it continues so there should be fair and equal business competition.

“Recently the government has issued trade competition decree to make business competition in Laos stronger. To make the decree effective, it has now been assigned to the Ministry of Commerce to be implemented in the business community.” Dr. Lien Thikeo said.

The two day training workshop was held to build understanding of the meaning, role and importance of business competition for socio-economic development. In particular they emphasised how it could improve economic efficiency and the welfare of consumers.
It gave the participants the opportunity to review and make recommendations on research papers relating to business competition policy and law in Laos, drafted by NERI and Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) international.

The training was organised by NERI, supported by CUTS-International and business enterprises. This was the third training workshop scheduled, following two previous workshops last year.