(Vientiane) The US-ASEAN Business Council held its first official Business Mission to Laos in recent memory this week, bringing a delegation of five leading U.S companies to meet the government and discuss possibilities for doing business in the nation. The bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Laos has become closer recently as the U.S. has put more focus on engaging with ASEAN. The mission was co-led by Frances Zwenig of the Council and Tim Doyle of the Coca-Cola Company, the Chair of the Council's Laos Committee.
“Laos is a new frontier for U.S. companies,” said Coca-Cola General Manager for Laos and Thailand Jorge Garduno. “At the Coca-Cola Company, we’re excited about the possibilities for Laos that ASEAN integration and the growing market here offers.”
The five companies which participated in the delegation all rank in the Fortune 500’s Top 75 of the largest companies in the world. The delegation included The Coca-Cola Company, Chevron, ExxonMobil, GE, and Johnson & Johnson.
“Laos has made real progress on a number of challenges,” said Frances Zwenig of the Council. “Our aim for this mission is to continue building momentum for stronger economic ties.”
The companies participating aim to use the mission to continue to develop and broaden the U.S.-Lao business relationship, and offer their support for the work Laos has done towards becoming a member of the World Trade Organization. As keen supporters of ASEAN integration, the Council members also discussed areas where they could be of assistance in building capacity to help Laos reach the ASEAN Economic Communities ambitious goals.
The delegation met with Deputy Prime Minister Somsawad Lengsawat, Minister of Planning and Investment Somdy Douangdy, Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr. Nam Viyaketh, Director General of Energy Promotion and Development from the Ministry of Energy and Mines Xaypaseuth Phomsoupha, and President of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Kissana Vongsay. The delegation also met with U.S. Ambassador to Laos Karen Stewart.