PAKSE, Lao PDR – This year, the Lao Coffee Festival successfully adapted to the ‘new normal’ offering ‘hybrid’ sessions (in person and remote attendance) to participants to promote Lao coffee worldwide. The Lao Government and development partners joined forces to support coffee stakeholders to set the Lao economy back on track despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The future path of the coffee sector was discussed in a ‘hybrid’ session of the Lao Coffee Festival co-chaired by H.E. Khemmani Pholsena, Minister of Industry and Commerce; H.E. Phet Phomphiphak, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry; and H.E. Dr. Vilayvong Bouddakham, Governor of Champassak Province.
They were joined by H.E. Ina Marčiulionytė, European Union Ambassador to Lao PDR; H.E. Florence Jeanblanc-Risler, French Ambassador to Lao PDR; Mrs. Julie Gabet-Ouahioune, French Development Agency (AFD) Country Director; and Ms. Barbara Ramos, International Trade Centre (ITC) Chief of Research and Strategies for Exports, among other coffee sector stakeholders and representatives.
In particular, the session provided an opportunity to present the Lao PDR Coffee Export Roadmap, the study on the Lao Coffee Association improvement, and a ‘Covid-19 Rapid Impact Assessment’ on the coffee sector. The Lao PDR Coffee Export Roadmap has been designed in consultation with sector stakeholders and is expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2021.
The Roadmap identifies challenges the sector is facing but also opportunities, offering concrete actions to improve coffee exports. Lao coffee exports have a bright future ahead.
According to estimates by the International Trade Centre (ITC), 69% of Lao PDR’s total coffee export potential to ASEAN is untapped, and trade with other growing markets can be increased. ‘In Laos, coffee is an industry of opportunity. It can empower women and youths, and increase tourism.
The EU stands ready to support the maturation of the sector leveraging on already successful initiatives,’ said the European Union Ambassador to Lao PDR.
A component of the EU-funded ARISE Plus Lao PDR project, the Roadmap also offers insights on building resiliency in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, informed by the ‘Covid-19 Rapid Impact Assessment’ conducted by the International Trade Centre in 2020.
This assessment of firms in the sector identified how they have been affected by the pandemic and which priorities to focus on for recovery. In addition, the session discussed improving the coffee sector’s governance by looking at the Study and Action Plan for the Improvement of the Lao Coffee Association, resulting from consultations with coffee stakeholders in March 2020.
This study is funded through the French AFD-Reinforcement & Expansion of the Coffee sector in Laos-RECOSEL project, in collaboration with the GIZ-RELATED project. The roadmap for the Lao Coffee Association improvement will be implemented within a new project for the coffee sector financed by AFD, starting by mid-2021.