VIENTIANE, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Vietnam's abolition of sugar import quotas for ASEAN members is seen as a major opportunity for Lao businesses to more easily access the neighboring country's market.
It provides the potential for Lao businesses to gain a foothold in a large market with many consumers, according to a sugar processor in southern Laos' Savannakhet province.
Vietnam's removal of sugar quotas on imports from ASEAN nations means member states will be able to export sugar to Vietnam without restrictions. This is good news for ASEAN states that produce sugar and can access Vietnamese markets, according to the information published on the website of the Lao Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
Sugar is a commodity whose import the Vietnamese government has to regulate in order to protect domestic producers. Past restrictions posed difficulties for sugar producers in other ASEAN countries wanting to tap into the Vietnamese market.
The Vietnamese government signed an agreement on Oct. 17, 2018. Vietnam's Ministry of Industry and Commerce then issued a decree to abolish sugar import quotas, which came into force on Wednesday. The decree is applicable to all ASEAN members, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Friday.
Quotas for sugar imports originating from ASEAN members will be terminated and there will be no limits on the quantity of sugar imported to Vietnam.
In 2018, Laos' target for sugar exports was 92.4 million U.S. dollars, but total earnings amounted to only 63.5 million U.S. dollars, according to Lao Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
In 2019, Laos set the target at 85.5 million U.S. dollars, a significant increase over the value of sugar actually exported in 2018 but lower than the target set for that year. The main reason for the drop in value was the fall in the price of sugar on global markets, according to a sugar processor in southern Laos' Savannakhet province, some 410 km east of the Lao capital Vientiane.
In 2016, Laos earned more than 15.4 million U.S. dollars from the sale of sugar to Thailand, which increased to 18.8 million U.S. dollars in 2018, the Lao Ministry of Industry and Commerce said.
Laos also sold sugar worth 31.5 million U.S. dollars to Vietnam in 2016, with the value increasing to almost 50 million U.S. dollars in 2018.