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The EU works closely with Laos under the framework of the EU-ASEAN Cooperation Agreement to ensure an effective environment for trade and investment relations.
Laos is a member of WTO since 2013 and, as a least developed country, benefits from the EU's 'Everything But Arms' scheme, which grants unilateral duty-free, quota-free access for all exports, except arms and ammunition to the EU.
- Total trade between the two partners equalled €533 million.
- The EU ranked as the fourth biggest trade partner of Laos (after Thailand, China and Vietnam), accounting for 4.2% of the country’s total trade.
- The EU imported goods worth €285 million from Laos. Textiles, footwear and agricultural products dominate EU imports from Laos.
- The EU exported goods worth almost €248 million to Laos, which mainly consisted of machinery.
The EU and Laos
As a Least Developed Country (LDC), Laos benefits from the most favourable regime available under the EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP), namely the Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme.
The EU’s GSP regulation allows vulnerable developing countries to pay fewer or no duties on exports to the EU, giving them vital access to the EU market and contributing to their growth. The EBA scheme is one arm of the GSP, which grants duty-free and quota-free access to the EU for all products (except arms and ammunition) for the world's Least Developed Countries, as defined by the United Nations.
The GSP Regulation provides that trade preferences may be suspended in case of "serious and systematic violation of principles" laid down in the human rights and labour rights Conventions listed in Annex VIII of the Regulation.
Laos and ASEAN
Laos is one of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The countries as a group are the EU's third largest trading partners outside Europe, after the US and China.
The ASEAN region is a dynamic market with some 640 million consumers. Laos is one of the three Least Developed Countries in ASEAN.
The EU co-operates with ASEAN as a whole. Cooperation is maintained through the EU-ASEAN Dialogue, which includes discussions on trade and investment issues at ministerial and senior economic official level.
Ensuring better access for EU exporters to the dynamic ASEAN market is a priority for the EU. Negotiations for a region-to-region trade and investment agreement between the EU and ASEAN were launched in 2007 and paused by mutual agreement in 2009 to give way to a bilateral format of negotiations.
These bilateral trade and investment agreements were conceived as building blocks towards a future region-to-region agreement.