The World Bank has been working with the government of Lao PDR to better integrate the country into the regional and global economy since 2006. As the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, Lao PDR faces a number of barriers to trade. Since beginning to implement reforms in 2008, the country has seen marked improvements in a number of key areas -- culminating in Lao PDR's formal ascension to the WTO last year. The Trade Post spoke with Richard Record, a senior economist based in the Lao PDR country office, about the video. Here's what he had to say...
The Trade Post: What was the vision behind making this video?
Mr. Record: Basically, the idea was to mark the completion of the first phase of our country trade program in Laos. It's called the Trade Development Facility project, or TDF for short. For the first phase, we established a multi-donor trust fund, which was completed last year. Among others things, this meant that we needed to prepare an Implementation Completion and Results Report. This is the process at the end of a project where we try to take stock and see if the results expected at the start of the project, in this case in 2007, were achieved.
Since the project involved multiple stakeholders, both in the government and with our contributing donors, this report was a fairly elaborate process, including an independent peer review. Overall the view was that the project had been a pretty good success, with standout achievements being of course Lao PDR's landmark accession to the WTO in early 2013, plus the work to automate customs, launch the online Trade Portal, all the various reforms implemented, the start-up of a garments skills development center, etc.
So in summary, the movie was a means to try and showcase some of the achievements of the program in a short and interesting way. Our team here in Vientiane were keen to work on this, and the whole thing was produced here in Laos. We took inspiration from some of the short IDA [International Development Association] campaign movies that use a similar sort of visual approach. And we were pleased to have our movie featured on the World Bank Group corporate homepage for a short while.
The Trade Post: Excellent. So what is next for the Laos trade program?
Mr. Record: Well, we have now been given board approval for a new second phase of the TDF project, TDF-2, and the establishment of another multi-donor trust fund. We also extended our IDA Customs and Trade Facilitation Project with an additional financing operation. We're excited to keep working with our counterparts here in the government, our donors, and members of the private sector, and we hope to deliver more positive results over the next few years.