This is the abstract for the paper that I am going to present at ICIRD 2015 at Mahidol University, Salaya Campus in July (http://www.icird.org).
Agroindustry in Lao PDR after Regional Economic Integration: Promoting Cluster Growth in Export Sectors
Since agriculture remains an extremely important industry in the Greater Mekong Subregion, the impacts on it of the changes being brought about by regional economic integration under the ASEAN Economic Community will be of critical importance to the region. In particular, Lao PDR lacks a large scale manufacturing industry to counteract the reliance for the majority of the population on agriculture and it also lacks much of the necessary infrastructure to create a successful processing and export industry. However, change is coming in the country as the construction of the Asian Highway Network promotes cross-border connectivity and encourages higher levels of investment to take advantage of the special economic zones and low labour cost competitiveness within the economy. Certain sectors within the industry have shown potential for rapid growth and the state of productivity and change within the industry overall is examined through the case studies of various vegetables and other products. In particular, attention is placed on the possibility of forming clusters of complementary firms in actual or potential agricultural export sectors and the difficulties and opportunities associated with this approach. It is found that cluster formation is difficult but manageable in cases where certain pre-existing conditions are met and can be promoted in such cases. However, in other cases, the approach seems unlikely to be successful. Implications are drawn from this and recommendations made for policy at the national level.
Keywords: agroindustry, clusters, Laos, organic rice, vegetables
Malaykham Philaphone, Nittana Southiseng and John Walsh
Malaykham Philaphone is an official at the Economic Research Institution for Trade (ERIT), Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Government of Lao PDR.
Dr. Nittana Southiseng is SME Development Adviser, Regional Economic Integration of Laos into ASEAN, Trade and Entrepreneurship Development (RELATED Project), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Vientiane, Lao PDR.
Dr. John Walsh is Director, SIU Research Centre, School of Management, Shinawatra University, Thailand.