Lao PDR is currently part of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Cultural industries, supported by the rapid improvement of soft infrastructures (e.g. fast development of the internet) are foreseen to be one of the potential tools to help the country graduate from his LDC status by 2020. At its 10th Congress held in February 2016, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party declared the 2030 vision and strategy to move toward the developing country status with medium income under the direction of green and sustainable development. The main objective is to continue the protection, preservation, rehabilitation and enrichment of the tradition and national cultural heritage value towards the sustainable development; in addition, the vision aims to develop modern cultural industries in order to contribute to the socio-economical sustainability.
In order to support this mainstream strategy, a ten years strategy (2016-2025) and five years programme (2016-2020) on the Sector of Information, Culture and Tourism were also validated and launched by Presidential Decree no. 83/govt. on 31 March 2016. The concerned ministries, agencies and local authorities shall take in account to cooperate and facilitate ensuring the successful implementation of the current decree.
The implementation of the Convention is foreseen as a necessary process to achieve this objective. The recent set-up of a 2005 Committee under the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism will contribute to speeding up future implementation measures. With 49 ethnic groups, Lao PDR is a very culturally diverse country. Ethnic communities actively engage in traditional cultural activities and events. This diversity has the potential to become a major strength allowing a broad range of artists and entrepreneurs from all these groups to develop unique niche products. Legal frameworks are being established and Lao PDR is increasingly strengthening its cooperation with international organisations with a desire for global interaction and international integration. This includes openness toward a reformed national regulatory framework to reflect international standards.
Although the cultural industries are still at an embryonic stage, the current growth and dynamism of the private sector, especially among the SMEs, is promising for the future of the cultural industries and their increasing impact on the economy of the country, particularly in the fields of IT, media, publishing, design, handicraft, arts and music production. The market and demand are growing which is a good sign for the cultural production and dissemination. As a first step, the handicraft sector has been identified as a priority sector in the National Development Plan for the period 2012-2016. Specific support for other sub-sectors will need to follow.
Yet, Lao PDR still has to overcome a number of challenges to fully implement the Convention. Awareness needs to be raised among a wider section of the population. The laws and legal procedures need to be more broadly disseminated and understood. More systematic communication and collaboration between the various actors of the public sector and the civil society must be encouraged. A more enabling environment as well as human capacity building at all levels must be fostered. Domestic production cycle needs to be more competitive and appealing to local customers to give an impetus to the full sector. Overall funding for these activities remains a key challenge.