Joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has provided Laos with a golden opportunity for development, said Laotian Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh in a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of ASEAN and also the 10th anniversary of Laos' entry into the grouping.
Bouasone said integrating into the world economic framework is one of the effective ways of promoting a country's development and helps promote economic growth of various countries and narrow the development gap between countries.
Bouasone said that at annual ASEAN summits, ASEAN leaders discussed and put forward many suggestions and measures aiming at promoting regional cooperation and development, from which Laos has benefited a lot.
In 2004, the 10th ASEAN summit was held in Vientiane, capital of Laos. Through hosting the summit, Laos' international status has been greatly improved, he said.
Bouasone continued to say that fulfilling the goal set by ASEAN members needs not only efforts of ASEAN members but also help from ASEAN's dialogue partners including China, Russia and Japan.
The building of the China-ASEAN free trade area (FTA) is very helpful for the economic development of Laos, said Bouasone, adding that the "Early Harvest Program" which China provided to the ASEAN countries has promoted Laotian export to China. So far, China has adopted tariff reduction or exemption on 308 items of commodities from Laos under the program.
Bouasone also mentioned the 2006 China-ASEAN Expo which was held in Nanning in southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, saying that leaders of China and ASEAN member countries held a summit at the expo and that ASEAN leaders spoke highly of the relations between China and ASEAN.