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Gretchen A. Kunze


Will Laos WTO Membership Increase Foreign Investment and Boost Economic Engagement?

February 6, 2013


On Saturday in Vientiane, Laos announced its full membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO is the global international organization that deals with the rules of trade between nations, with the goal of helping producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business. The WTO puts it this way: WTO “agreements cover goods, services and intellectual property. They spell out the principles of liberalization, and the permitted exceptions. They include individual countries’ commitments to lower customs tariffs and other trade barriers, and to open and keep open services markets.” The process leading to approval for membership in the WTO often takes a country about five years and is a badge of marked economic achievement. For Laos, this effort has taken 15 years.


Women’s Leadership Critical to Reaching Development Goals in Laos

September 12, 2012


In late August, Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong approved the first-ever national draft strategy on gender; a broad plan designed to increase the number of women in senior positions in government. The strategy is not yet public…


Digital Libraries Expand Access to Information for Lao Citizens

March 28, 2012


Internet users in Laos are estimated at only 7 percent of the population as of 2010, the last time this data was gathered. But, despite how low this seems, that is double the number of users than in 2008. And, as the economy continues to grow, internet usage is steadily climbing in Laos.


Luang Prabang Film Festival Inspires and Showcases Lao Filmmakers

January 18, 2012


DVDs of popular Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Hollywood movies are readily available in Laos, but there are very few Lao films and only a small and nascent Lao filmmaking industry. With only a handful of movie theaters in the entire country, many citizens have never been to the cinema, and filmmaking is generally seen as a foreign industry. Not only are there few films about Laos, but even fewer told from a Lao point of view.


New Decree Opens Way for Civil Society in Laos

June 2, 2010


With a single-party government and state-run media, civil society in Laos is one of the most limited in the world. Since the founding of the Lao PDR in 1975, the state has disseminated information and policies, delivered basic social services, and consulted the public through state-funded mass organizations which are part of the communist party str… Read more


World Water Day: Laos Hardest Hit by Mekong’s Falling Water Levels

March 17, 2010


The Mekong River, the longest in Southeast Asia, is at its lowest reported water level in 20 years. The river runs through six countries – China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam – but the highest percentage (35 percent) of the river’s overall water flow runs through Laos. The dramatic effects of the low water level here are palpable. I… Read more


Vientiane Plays Host, and Dresses Up, for SEA Games

December 16, 2009


Vientiane has never looked so good. As host to the 25th Southeast Asian Games, the city has been spruced up and polished. The 10 ASEAN countries, plus Timor-Leste, are competing in 25 sporting events, ranging from soccer, badminton, and taekwondo to more regionally-specific sports such as sepak takraw and poomsae. Vientiane’s charm and beauty are w… Read more


In Laos: Land-linked, not Land-locked

August 27, 2008


With its GDP growing at an average of 6-7% annually since 2000, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is a country on the move. Not very fast when compared to its rapidly-burgeoning neighbors China and Vietnam, but fast when compared to its historically languid pace. In meeting after meeting with senior Government officials and representat… Read more