India, Laos to discuss raising bilateral trade as MEA pushes for diversity in markets

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on August 21, 2020

With Covid-19 forcing countries to re-align supply chains, New Delhi looks for fresh opportunities

The Ministry of External Affairs is keen on focussing on all markets, however small, to help Indian exporters look for opportunities amidst global restructuring of supply chains due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the spotlight this week will be on Lao PDR — one of the smallest nations within the ten-member ASEAN.

Indian exporters and their counterparts from Laos will discuss opportunities for increasing trade and investment between the two countries at a video conference organised by the Indian Embassy in Lao PDR, in association with exporters’ body FIEO, this week, an official told BusinessLine.

Building on potential

The MEA has started the exercise of roping in its consulates world over to help push India’s exports wherever possible with the objective of not only increasing but diversifying trade.

“India and Laos have shared friendly relations for the past many decades and have been reliable trade partners. However, India’s share in Laos’ imports is still very small and much below China’s. There is a lot of potential for increase and the effort of the government will be to build on the existing potential,” the official said.

India’s total trade with Laos reached $28.18 million in 2019-20 out of which exports were worth $ 25 million. The country’s export to Laos was small compared to China’s exports worth $1.7 billion.

“Due to the pandemic and the strained relations between China and many of its trading partners, a shift in supply chains is likely to happen. This is the right time for Indian exporters to push in markets where their presence is low,” the official said.

CLMV corridor

Electrical machinery and equipment, pharmaceuticals, vehicles, ceramics and organic chemicals are a few of the main products exported from India to Lao PDR.

The objective of the video conference is to understand the present status of economic situation in Lao PDR in view of Covid-19 and formulate roadmap/strategies that need to be followed to enhance India’s share in Lao PDR imports, according to FIEO.

Senior officials from Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) and the Ministry of Commerce have been invited to join the session, the official said.

Laos is not only important for India in terms of being a market for goods, but also for investments. In fact, the Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV) corridor is one of the fastest-growing sub-regions within the ASEAN and India also has plans to promote investments in the four countries which could serve as a gateway for it to the rest of South Asia.

Published on August 21, 2020

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