By Somsack Pongkhao
December 2, 2012
The numerous events of political and historic importance for Laos in 2012 were the result of the country’s active engagement in international affairs by pursuing a consistent foreign policy of peace, independence, friendship and cooperation.
President Choummaly Sayasone made the observation while addressing members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of international organisations on Saturday. They called on the president to express their cordial friendship and goodwill towards him and other leaders as the country celebrated the 37th anniversary of the founding of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
The event gave overseas representatives the chance to offer their best wishes to Lao leaders and to mark National Day.
Mr Choummaly said the year 2012 had been of special significance as economic growth had continued steadily and poverty reduction efforts had been stepped up.
“We are pleased with our achievements in maintaining firm political stability and ensuring overall security and social order,” the president said.
“Economic growth reached 8.1 percent and GDP per capita this year is estimated at US$1,355, which contributes to improving the livelihoods of the Lao multi-ethnic people.”
He highlighted some of the significant achievements of 2012, including Laos being admitted as a member of the World Trade Organisation on October 26 and the country’s successful hosting of various international conferences, particularly the ASEM Summit.
Thanks to the strong determination and solid unity of the Lao people nationwide, combined with continued support and cooperation from all friendly countries and international organisations near and far, Laos has been able to attain significant progress in its develop ment efforts, Mr Choummaly said.
This comes despite the recent global economic and financial crisis and the effects of climate change which have, to some extent, affected the implementation of the national socio-economic development plan, he added.
Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, Mr Lee Gun Tae, who is also Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, represented diplomats and international organisations accredited to Laos with a speech to mark the occasion.
He congratulated Laos on the remarkable progress made in 2012, particularly the hosting of the ASEM Summit and Laos’ accession to the WTO.
He said the success of the Summit demonstrated the determination and capacities of the Lao people as a whole and will greatly boost the country’s image worldwide.
Concerning WTO membership, he said, it has been a long and hard-fought process which has taken more than a decade. But becoming the 158th country to join the global trading body has more potential than any other single event to lead the nation to prosperity.
As evidenced by the experience of neighbouring countries, it will further integrate Laos with the rest of the world by promoting transparency in trade and investment and eventually strengthening the competitiveness of its industries, he added.
Mr Lee Gun Tae said the opening of two embassies as well as country representative offices of international organisations this year is also a testimony to Laos’ enhanced standing on the world stage.