April 14th, 2010, 01:30 PM
News and discussions about Laos :okay:
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April 14th, 2010, 01:30 PM
News and discussions about Laos :okay:
April 14th, 2010, 01:31 PM
S. Korea to give development aid to Laos
SEOUL, April 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has agreed to provide Laos with US$8.3 million in development assistance in the agricultural and education sectors, Seoul's foreign ministry said Wednesday.
The two countries also signed an aviation accord at their joint committee meeting Tuesday in Vientiane, the ministry said.http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2010/04/14/0301000000AEN20100414010400315.HTML
April 14th, 2010, 02:46 PM
Party Chief meets top Lao leaders
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nong Duc Manh had separate meetings with leaders of the Lao national assembly, government and mass organisation in Vientiane on April 13, discussing measures to enhance bilateral ties.
General Secretary Manh stressed that the Vietnamese Party and State is whole-heartedly dedicated to the continuing mission of strengthening and fostering the traditional relations, special solidarity and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos , in line with the aspirations of its two peoples and contributing to peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world as a whole.
He praised Laos on its admirable achievements in socio-economic development, the maintenance of political stability, the improvement of people’s living conditions, and the expansion of external relations, which have contributed to elevating the country’s profile and position in the international arena.
Chairman of the Lao National Assembly Thoongsing Thammavong expressed his pleasure at the close cooperation between the two legislative bodies in both bilateral and multilateral areas. He thanked the Vietnamese National Assembly for its practical assistance, particularly in human resources training, and the upgrade of facilities and equipment.
The Lao National Assembly will spare no effort to foster the traditional friendship and special solidarity with Vietnam, Chairman Thoongsing Thammavong affirmed, stressing the Lao NA’s support for and coordination with the Vietnamese NA at regional and international inter-parliamentary forums, including the ASEAN Inter-parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), to help the latter fulfil its duty as AIPA Chair in 2010.
General Secretary Manh said the two legislative bodies need to promote cooperation and the exchange of experiences in legislation as well as the implementation of oversight and decision-making functions, along with joint checks and the acceleration of the two governments’ implementation of bilateral agreements.
President of the Lao Front for National Construction Sisavath Keobounphanh affirmed his organisation will spare no effort to contribute to the special traditional friendship and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries’ people, particularly those in localities sharing a common borderline.
General Secretary Manh hailed the Lao Front for National Construction and the Vietnam Fatherland Front for the role in boosting ties between the two countries.
He urged the two mass organisations to provide mutual help in personnel training, contributing to strengthening the great national unity and national construction and defence in each country.
Prime Minister Bouason Bouphavanh said the Lao government will promote and facilitate the cooperation between Vietnamese ministries, agencies and localities and their Lao counterparts on development, and encourage major Vietnamese businesses to invest in Laos , especially in energy, transport, post, telecommunications, oil and gas, and industrial crop planting.
General Secretary Manh and PM Bouason Bouphavanh agreed that the two governments need to work together in promoting and overseeing the implementation of high-level bilateral agreements, easing difficulties and creating more conditions for ministries, agencies, localities and firms of both countries to cooperate.
The two sides also need to give priority to each other, accelerate trade and the exchange of goods and services, and cooperate in taking measures to fully tap each country’s potential based on equal partnership and mutual benefit, they said.http://en.vietnamplus.vn/Home/Party-Chief-meets-top-Lao-leaders/20104/8094.vnplus
April 21st, 2010, 04:10 PM
Asian parliamentarians to discuss population, climate change in Laos
HANOI, April 21 (PNA/Xinhua) -- More than 100 parliamentarians and experts from over 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific region will meet in Laos to discuss population, development and climate change issues from April 25 to 26, Lao newspaper the Vientiane Times reported Wednesday.
Themed in "Population and Adaptation to Climate Change", the 26th Asian Parliamentarians' Meeting on Population and Development will focus on topics such as climate change and women, population issues with adaptation strategies to climate change, and concrete measures to combat climate change.
At the meeting, parliamentarians will share information and experience from their respective countries on the way their populations have been, and will be, affected by global climate change, according to the newspaper.
A statement on population issues and adaptation to climate change is expected to be adopted at the end of the meeting.
The statement will bring together the voices of parliamentarians from the region, providing necessary facts to support and pressure governments on their commitment to population issues, both locally and globally, said the newspaper. (PNA/Xinhua) http://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=4&sid=&nid=4&rid=271098
April 26th, 2010, 04:23 PM
More Airports To Be Built And Improved In Northern Laos
VIENTIANE, April 26 (Bernama) -- Feasibility studies are being conducted for the possibility of constructing new airports and improving the existing ones in northern provinces in Laos, its news agency KPL reported.
"We are cooperating with international organisations on conducting the feasibility studies on the construction and improvement of airports in northern provinces such as Xiengkhouang, Houaphanh and Bokeo," said Director of the Civil Aviation Department Yakua Lopangkao.
Yakua added that this will also improve air transportation and boost tourism in northern Laos.
He said the government with some financial loans from foreign countries have invested billions of kip in projects to improve five airports of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Savannakhet, Champassak and Luang Namtha.
Once Pakse Airport has been improved it will be able to support 150-seat aircrafts like Boeing 737s and Airbus 320s, said Yakua, adding that Luang Prabang airport is being improved to accommodate 400-seat aircrafts and its US$ 8 million improvement is projected to complete in 2013.http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=493444
April 29th, 2010, 05:09 PM
FAO DISTRIBUTED RICE TO 11,380 HOUSEHOLDS IN KETSANA-AFFECTED PROVINCE
VIENTIANE, April 29 (NNN-KPL) -- The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has distributed improved rice seeds in five provinces that were affected by last year's devastating typhoon Ketsana in the southern parts of Lao PDR.
Two teams distributed seeds directly to 11,380 households in 238 target villages in the five provinces. A total of 440 tons of rice seeds were distributed from the end of February to the middle of April 2010.
The distribution was done by the FAO emergency staff in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and provincial agriculture and forestry office and district agriculture and forestry office in sixteen districts in the five affected provinces: Savannakhet, Saravane, Champassak, Attapeu and Sekong.
In some cases, the teams could not access villages as there are not roads for example in Kalum district, Sekong province.
"We are happy that the farmers got their seeds before the next planting season. We have tried to reach all targeted villages as planned despite many roads being damaged or under reconstruction," said Mr. Boun Ome Soulideth, FAO emergency staff.
"Even though Ketsana hit the country a few months ago, the people living in the affected areas are still suffering its consequences. Rice stocks and harvests were lost, and many people are still struggling with food shortages," says Serge Verniau, FAO Representative in Lao PDR.
"Households continue struggling to rebuild their livelihoods and their own means of food production. There is still an emergency for many of these families," Mr. Verniau added.
The FAO rehabilitation work in the typhoon-affected areas has began with the support of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and will continue thanks to the support from the Government of Sweden and the Principality of Andorra that have respectively provided 3 million Sweden krona and 24,985 euro to the FAO to assist with the relief work for communities affected by typhoon Ketsana.
Typhoon Ketsana affected some of the most vulnerable and poor districts in Laos. The disaster has been classified as the most severe in the region in the last 40 years. More than 180,000 people were severely affected and many of them became food insecure as houses, storage facilities, and rice fields were washed away by the storm and subsequent floods.
The UN has since September worked in close cooperation with the Lao government to assess the emergency needs and provide assistance to affected communities.
Meanwhile, farmers in Sikhottabong district, Vientiane Capital, and Nongbok district, Khammouane province, are speeding up harvesting their dry season rice crops.
Mr Soulin Inthathilath, Deputy Head of the Agriculture and Forestry Office of Sikhottabong district, said that farmers in his district were focusing on their rice harvesting and so far they had harvested 85 per cent of their rice farmland 790 ha.
Mr. Soulin said that the rice yielding in this season would not meet the target because it was very hot when rice began to bear fruit. He expected that the rice harvesting of the local farmers would complete within this month.
In the meantime, farmers in Nongbok district, Khammouane province, began their rice harvest early this month and the harvesting of 1,000 ha rice farmland in the district is expected to be over by the end of this month.
So far the farmers have completed their rice harvesting by 65 per cent of the total area. It is believed that the district would yield between 5-6 tonnes of rice per hectare.http://www.namnewsnetwork.org/v2/read.php?id=118583
May 11th, 2010, 09:38 AM
ADB urges Laos to improve business environment
Laos needs to accelerate improvement of the business environment otherwise it will be difficult to maintain strong economic growth in upcoming decades, according to the Asian Development Bank.
“Diversifying the economy's sources of growth and generating more jobs to absorb the growing labour force remain major longer term challenges. Mining and hydropower boost growth but offer few jobs,” the bank states in its Asian Development Outlook 2010.
The bank made the recommendations for Laos after the country slipped in th e World Bank's “Doing Business 2010” ranking to 167 of 183 countries, and in Transparency International's 2009 Corruption Perception Index to 158 of 180 countries.
The bank also urged the government to build a fiscal framework that channels revenue from the hydropower and mining sectors into projects that expand production capacity and reduce poverty.
Improvement of the business environment will enable Laos to attract more foreign investment, in particular in the non resource sector, one of the main conditions for ensuring sustainable economic growth .
At present, about 80 percent of foreign direct investment goes to the resource sector, including mining and hydropower, which will one day be exhausted. Investment has increased in recent years but is still small scale.
Economists said the Lao government should take serious action to create better conditions for foreign investors to process natural resources in Laos before exporting them to foreign markets so they can add more value to Lao products.
Laos has plenty of natural resources including timber, minerals, water and fertile land suitable for rice and cash crop cultivation and the supply of raw materials to local processing industries.
Another major goal for the government to achieve is membership in the World Trade Organisation, which will enable Laos to export its products to world markets. At present, Laos exports to the European Union and other countries that charge only low import tariffs.
Overseas businessmen have urged the government to simplify the investment approval procedure after they encountered considerable problems obtaining an investment licence.
They also want the government to provide them with timely information on investment so they can decide whether to go ahead with projects. They also need cheap, skilled labour and cheaper power so they can manufacture Lao products at competitive prices.
At present, many investors bring in large numbers of foreign workers to Laos, even though this means they are in violation of the Labour Law.
The government has acknowledged the need to improve the business environment to boost domestic and private investment. It has revised the Investment Promotion Law, which is expected to come into force in the near future.
The government believes this law and the improvement of laws to meet WTO requirements will go some way towards improving the business climate. http://www.asianewsnet.net/home/news.php?id=11715
May 12th, 2010, 05:57 PM
May 12th, 2010, 06:00 PM
Tourism was the second largest contributor, after mining, to Laos’s GDP. Laos expects tourism to be the top contributor to its economic growth and is focusing on promoting eco-tourism to international markets. Laos recorded 1.2 million tourist arrivals that generated US$173 million for the country and projects 1.3 million arrivals with $190 million generated from tourism in 2007. In 2007, Laos welcomed 420,000 visitors, up 30% year-on-year. It projects two million visitors with $290 million revenue in 2010. The government has made tourism development, with the focus on ecotourism, one of 11 priority sectors to help improve standards of living - a way of generating income for local people, raising awareness about environmental conservation, encouraging local production and protecting Lao’s multiethnic culture and traditions
May 18th, 2010, 05:10 PM
LAO AIRLINES CANCELS VIENTIANE-SAVANNAKHET-SIEM REAP FLIGHTS
VIENTIANE, May 17 (NNN-Bernama) -- The Lao Airlines has announced recently to cancel some of its flights particularly the Vientiane-Savannakhet-Siem Reap (Cambodia) route, due to the decrease in the passenger number and, the ash issue in European countries and the political problem in a neighbouring country.
Sitthideth Douangsitthi, head of the Marketing Department of the Lao Airlines, disclosed that the company had to stop and cancel some flights in order to save the status of the company.
In order to maintain its service to Siem Reap in Cambodia, the Lao Airlines has started to operate its flight on the Vientiane-Bangkok-Siem Reap route, reported Laos news agency (KPL).
Sitthideth Douangsitthi added that the airlines would operate regular flights on two routes Vientiane-Luang Prabang and Vientiane-Champassak routes that are connected to destinations in neighbouring countries.
The National Tourism Administration of Laos has expected that more than two million of foreign tourists will come to Laos in 2010 while the number of tourist arrivals in Laos in 2009 reached 1.7 million.
Lao Airlines is the national carrier of Laos, operating flight services to ten domestic destinations and international services to Cambodia, China, Thailand and Vietnam. Its headquarters is Vientiane's Wattay International Airport.http://namnewsnetwork.org/v2/read.php?id=120618
May 22nd, 2010, 02:14 PM
Phongsavanh Airlines to buy three aircraft
Phongsavanh Airlines Public Company is planning to buy three jet aircraft from the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Corporation of Russia.
The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding for the purchase in Vientiane on Wednesday.
“We cannot reveal the purchase cost now because it depends on the accommodations or facilities of the aircraft to be built,” said Phongsavanh Airlines Public Company General Director, Mr Artem Vartanian.
“We are preparing a feasibility study now.”
The company will receive the three aircraft by early 2012. It will take the manufacturer over a year to assemble them, with each having 98 seats.
Currently Phongsavanh Airlines provides flights on a 19-seat aircraft, which travels between Vientiane and the provinces of Xayaboury, Huaphan and Phongsaly.
Service began about a month after the Phongsavanh Group Company took control of the Lao Capricorn Air Company in January.
“We will provide flights to international destinations once we have the new aircraft,” Mr Vartanian said.
It is expected flights will be scheduled to destinations in Thailand, Vietnam, China, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries in the region.
The Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Corporation is a world aircraft producer and has been manufacturing aircraft for over 75 years. Phongsavanh Group plans to buy a further three aircraft from the corporation to add new routes for future trade, tourism and investment purposes.
The group hopes to take advantage of the growth in these sectors in Laos and aims to raise air transport in Laos to an international standard.
Lao Airlines will also buy two ARJ21-700 jet aircraft from the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd, after signing a purchase agreement in January. The purchase o f jet aircraft is an important step for Lao Airlines and its growth. At present the airline owns only propeller aircraft. It will receive the two new aircraft by the end of 2012.
It agreed to the purchase after experiencing increased demand for charter flights by tourists and government officials. The two airlines placed the orders in light of concerns about the adequacy of domestic and international air transport. The new aircraft will drive the development of the air transport market and tourism.
Lao Airlines is the national flag carrier of Laos, formerly known as Lao Aviation. It has eight aircraft - four MA60, two ATR72-200, and two new TR72-500 bought from France last year. They fly to four international and seven domestic locations.
It offers flights to and from Luang Prabang, Xieng Khuang, Oudomxay, Luang Namtha, Bokeo, Savannakhet and Champassak provinces. International destinations are Cambodia, China, Thailand and Vietnam.
Phongsavanh Group is a multi-sector conglomerate with enterprises in international trading, timber, hospitality, telecommunications, banking, airlines and security products and services, according to the group's website.
By Phonsavanh Vongsay
(Latest Update May 21, 2010)
May 31st, 2010, 09:14 AM
MALAYSIAN PM NAJIB TO MAKE TWO-DAY OFFICIAL VISIT TO LAOS
KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 (NNN-BERNAMA) -- Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will make a two-day official visit to Laos from June 2, his first to the republic since becoming the prime minister in April last year.
The prime minister will be accompanied by his wife, Rosmah Mansor, as well as several Cabinet ministers, government officials and a business delegation, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here on Sunday.
The visit emphasises the importance which Malaysia attaches to its relationship with Laos, said the statement, which added that it also illustrated Malaysia's commitment to actively engage Laos in dialogue and discussion to broaden and deepen the existing bilateral co-operation and pave the way to explore other potential areas for future co-operation.
High on the prime minister's programme will be a bilateral meeting with Laos Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh, which will take place on Wednesday in Vientiane.
The meeting will provide an excellent opportunity for them to exchange views and achieve closer understanding on issues of mutual interests, the statement said.
Both leaders will then witness the signing of several agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) between Malaysia and Laos.
Najib is also scheduled to call on Laos President Choummaly Sayasone and to address the business community from both countries during a business forum-cum-luncheon.
The prime minister will return home on Friday.http://namnewsnetwork.org/v2/read.php?id=122053
May 31st, 2010, 09:48 AM
ADB funds northern GMS transport network upgrade
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a supplementary grant of more than 220 billion kip (US$27 million) to the Lao government to upgrade road transport and help the rural poor.
Under the project, it is expected people in rural areas will gain better access to markets, jobs and services in the country and the region.
Ms Viengthong Siphandone ( right ) shakes hands with Mr Barend Frielink after the signing ceremony.
The agreement for the supplementary grant was signed in Vientiane last week between Deputy Minister of Finance Ms Viengthong Siphandone and ADB's Laos Resident Mission Office in Charge Mr Barend Frielink, in the presence of government officials from related line ministries.
The supplementary grant agreement will provide financing for the Northern Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) Transport Network Improvement project, which is under implementation.
The additional funding has been provided because of increases in the cost of construction materials, and to allow for increased vehicle axle loads, to comply with international standards in the GMS.
The grant allows vehicle axle loads on national highway Route 4, linking the northern province of Luang Prabang to the Laos-Thailand border via the provincial capital of Xayaboury, to increase to 11 tonnes from 9.3 tonnes, to meet the standards of other GMS transport corridors.
In addition, an 83 kilometre section of the road will be widened.
The Northern GMS Transport Network Improvement project is one of several priority projects relating to infrastructure development to integrate Laos with other GMS countries, said Ms Viengthong.
The project was initiated in 2008 with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport as the executing agency, and aims to facilitate transportation, trading and tourism. It will greatly benefit economic development in the GMS, as well as in the north of Laos.
But the project was affected by the global financial crisis, resulting in an increase in construction equipment and material prices as well as fuel prices, Ms Viengthong explained.
“We are aware of the importance of the project, which will contribute to the development of transportation and communication among provinces in Laos and other cities in neighbouring countries, in order to boost social and economic development,” she said.
Mr Frielink said “Improving routes that connect provinces in Laos will enhance sub-regional connections and contribute to economic growth and poverty reduction.”
Poor basic infrastructure is a major impediment to sub-regional economic cooperation. Laos is pivotal to the GMS transport corridors linking northern Thailand, northern Vietnam and the southern provinces of the People's Republic of China.
Improvement of this road under the supplementary grant will facilitate more standardised and efficient transport on the regional and national road networks, lead to increased exports to Thailand of agricultural goods produced in the project area, promote tourism from Thailand to Luang Prabang, and will enhance sub-regional connectivity between northern Laos and neighbouring countries.
May 31st, 2010, 10:09 AM
Laos revamps investment landscape to lift GDP by 8%
Published: 31/05/2010 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Business
TOKYO : The Lao government is planning on upgrading its investment climate so that it can reach annual economic growth of more than 8% over the next five years, Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh says.
"From 2011-15 there are plans by our government to achieve economic growth targets of about 8% or more while at the same time maintaining our stability," Mr Bouasone said at the 'Future of Asia' business conference in Tokyo.
Laos offers lots of potential for entrepreneurs looking to tap the various sectors the government is promoting.
Mr Bouasone said that despite the past year's global economic upheaval and the political problems in neighbouring Thailand, the country's gross domestic product grew by 7.6% in 2009.
"There are no doubts therefore that we can achieve the targets we have set out," he said.
The global economic crisis had not destroyed Asian economies, on the contrary the region has now managed to manoeuvre itself into a key position on the world markets.
The region's rising global standing also means that trade and investments between Asian countries are likely to continue to rise. Countries such as Laos need to tap these opportunities as much as possible and Vientiane was looking to make legal amendments so it can devise better incentives to attract foreign investors, he said.
"We will upgrade the country's investment incentives to make it more attractive in every way possible. Be it in taxes, litigation issues or the approval process," he said.
Laos will soon present its investment policies in detail and show that they are transparent.
The government will promote investment in agriculture, electricity generation, alternative energy, hotels and tourism, logistics and services.
Growth in the country's economic activities has been the main draw for foreign direct investment in Laos which has surged over the past few years thanks to the country's stability, he said.
Mr Bouasone said Laos is a country with an abundance of farmland and forestry and his aim was to promote this sector's exports.
"We are going to develop this area with value-added products such as organic food," he said. "We would make [forestry development] a reality. We want 65% of the country to be forested by 2015."
Developing human resources is key to meeting the country's economic targets and to see it leave the realm of the world's least developed nations over the next couple of years.
Another aim of Mr Bouasone is to try to make Laos a "land-linked" country rather than a land-locked one. To achieve this the government will promote greater investment in infrastructure and other developments that will help increase its connectivity with China and Thailand.
"The 2011-15 plan aims to achieve many things, we want to grow by 8% each year while maintaining our stability, we want to develop human resources to cope with this growth and, at the same time, care for and nurture our precious asset - the environment," he said.
Laos would welcome larger-scale investments from China, Japan, Thailand and other countries, he said.
"We would welcome large scale businesses to give us stability such as hydro power and construction of infrastructure, aside from the development of various trade zones," he said.
The government is also eyeing other foreign investment projects, such as the development of:
- logistics systems to facilitate the transfer of goods and services, and
- local economies in each part of the country.
"All this would help us reach the goal of being a 'land-linked' country," he said.
Thailand is a major investor in Laos, but the kingdom's political turmoil was having a major effect on its investment.
Laos is a mostly rural nation of about 6 million and is among one of Asia's poorest countries. Thailand is crucial for Laos as it generates much of its foreign exchange through investments in hydro projects, mining and tourism.
"Political instability in Thailand is of great concern to us, especially because we share borders with Thailand," Mr Bouasone said. "Because the Lao PDR uses ports in Thailand to export and import we are directly affected [by the unrest]," he said
June 1st, 2010, 08:54 AM
Savannakhet old town to get facelift
Savannakhet provincial authorities will inject 30 billion kip to restore the town's old quarter, aiming to bring in tourists travelling through the province between Thailand and Vietnam.
Deputy provincial Governor Dr Souphanh Keomixay said the majority of this funding will be used for infrastructure development, including roads, parks and a river embankment.
“We will open a night market in June and the second Lao-ITECC will open here at the end of this year,” he said, adding these developments would attract more visitors to Savannakhet.
“We aim to not only be a transit province. We will do our best to offer facilities to tourists passing through, especially those using the east-west economic corridor.”
Dr Souphanh said the restoration of Savannakhet's old town would mimic the work done in Luang Prabang, where hotels, restaurants and business units now operate from finely restored Lao-French buildings of the colonial era that fell into disrepair in the recent past.
More than 100 Lao-French houses have been registered for preservation in Savannakhet, and businesspeople will be encouraged to invest in the old town after road resurfacing in the area is complete.
Dr Souphanh said Savannakhet started this process with poor infrastructure and limited funding, which was always going to be a challenge.
The province attaches great importance to tourism development to generate income for poverty reduction of villagers, and is starting by paving roads to all tourism sites, which will take the next five years to complete.
The authorities have also installed signs so tourists can get to tourism sites independently by motorbike or tuk-tuk. Savannakhet is easily accessible to regional tourists after the completion of the second Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge in 2006, and visitor numbers have increased five-fold from 100,000 in 2005 to 589,000 in 2009.
The majority of tourists are from Thailand and Vietnam, but tourism officials believe the planned development project will encourage more tourists from western countries to experience the natural, cultural and historic sites of Savannakhet province.
There are 104 tourism sites listed in Savannakhet, but only half have the necessary infrastructure to enable tourists to visit them, according to the Savannakhet Tourism Department.
Most western visitors to Laos only see Savannakhet out of a bus window on their way north or south, but more tourists are interested in exploring the area. Officials are confident that more facilities and some restoration will help the provincial capital establish itself as a destination in its own right.
Dr Souphanh said the province had allocated one-third of its budget to develop the tourism sector but he was still not satisfied with the achievements made over the past five years.
According to statistics, tourists currently stay in the province for an average of two days and one night.
The deputy governor said his staff would produce more tourism programmes and organise cultural events to encourage visitors to stay longer, and better understand another centre for Lao culture
June 1st, 2010, 09:05 AM
(KPL) The Vientiane Mekong River Embankment Repair and Park Development Project has been completed by 63 per cent, said Vice Mayor of Vientiane Capital, Mr. Bounchanh Sinlavong.
Mr. Bounchanh inspected the construction site of the project last Friday to evaluate its progress. The project is among the 21 projects for the celebration of the 450th anniversary of Vientiane proclamation as the national capital, scheduled for November.
It is a mega project of the government of Laos and financed with a loan of US$37 million from the Republic of Korea government, reported the Project Manager of the Vientiane Mekong River Embankment Repair and Park Development, Mr. Bounchanh Keosithammavong, to the visitors.
The project is being implemented by a Korean company Hhi Hgung Hwa. The construction began in 2009 and is expected to be fully completed in 2013.
The Vientiane Mekong River Embankment Repair and Park Development Project is divided into two phases. Its first phase has been completed by more than 60 per cent. However the developer said that the first phase would have been completed before the celebration of the 450th anniversary of Vientiane proclamation.
The embankment stretches four kilometres from the Pakpasak Technical College to Thaphalansay village.
Once the development project is over, the riverside area will become a relaxation and tourist spot for Vientiane residents and visitors
June 2nd, 2010, 10:02 AM
Laos: Lao economy growing almost as fast as China's
Economy grew by 6.4 per cent last year, exporting minerals to China, clothing to Europe, and energy to Thailand. Tourism is also developing. However, poverty remains widespread.
Thursday, January 28, 2010By Asia News
Vientiane – The Lao economy grew last year despite the global financial crisis at a rate of 6.4 per cent, the second highest in East Asia after China, this according to a World Bank report.
The report noted that one of the main reasons for this impressive growth is the Lao economy’s relative insulation from the global financial system and its low exposure to global trade.
Still, a sustained demand for Lao exports, including copper and gold bought by China, garment products by Europe and electricity by Thailand, combined with its strong tourism industry, which was boosted by higher public expenditures on domestic infrastructure for the 25th South-East Asian Games in Vientiane in December 2009, also helped cushion the country’s economy compared to other nations.
The mining sector alone, in particular copper and gold, contributed about 2.5 percentage points to growth in 2009, while manufacturing, construction and agriculture sectors each contributed 1 point to the growth.
However, not all is rosy. Economists warn the country has a number of challenges to meet to ensure growth is sustainable.
Metals processing industries and hydroelectric power plants led the impressive growth of the Lao economy; however, this is not sustainable in the long-term due to the unavoidable depletion of natural resources.
Experts are urging the government to shift the base of economic growth toward agricultural processing industries and services, including tourism.
Development of human resources and improvements to the investment mechanism to facilitate business operations should top the government’s agenda.
In fact Laos is still one of the region’s poorest countries with an estimated 27 per cent of the population living with less than $US 1 a day and 74.1% living on less than US$ 2 a day. Illiteracy remains widespread.
June 2nd, 2010, 10:15 AM
Several tourism operators in Laos are facing potential crisis as global and regional factors continue to hamper visitor numbers to the country.
Tourism sector battling through major downturn
Recent violence and political turmoil in Thailand, along with European flight chaos caused by an erupting Icelandic volcano, and unstable global economic markets have all meant that tourist numbers in Laos are below average during what is already the traditional low season.
A short walk around the renowned tourist hub of Vangvieng district in Vientiane province tells much of the story.
According to statistics from the local tourist office, more than 300 foreigners visited the town in May last year. But that number has dropped this year since the Lao new year holiday in mid-April.
Local restaurants, guest-houses, and tubing and kayaking operators have all been affected by the downturn, with many now struggling to make ends meet.
Only about three local visitors have been recorded as going kayaking each day this month, said Head of the provincial Tourist Office, Mr Phouvieng Sykoson.
“We have met with tourism operators to explain the extent of the situation and encourage them to tough it out. But we have told them not to sit still, but rather to take the downtime to create various new attractions,” he said.
But it is not just small businesses that are feeling the pinch.
Director of Lao Airlines’ Administration and Planning Department, Mr Noudang Chanthasouk, said the political situation in Thailand has had a major impact on flight operations.
“The number of passengers from Bangkok to Luang Prabang is currently considered very low. We operate 70 seat aircraft, but we are sometimes only filling them with 12 passengers. Moreover, we have been forced to cancel several flights due to lack of demand.”
That lack of demand is also reflected in tourism numbers in the World Heritage listed town of Luang Prabang, which has prompted many local businesses and guesthouses to lower their prices dramatically in a bid to attract visitors and sustain their business.
But Head of the Luang Prabang provincial Tourism Department, Mr Khamphoui Phommavong, urged operators not to engage in that kind of negative competition, which he said will simply reduce local incomes.
He said the department was meeting with travel agencies to discuss the issue.
“What we can do is to evaluate each tourist attraction to ensure they are still attractive, especially ecotourism sites, in preparation for the next high season,” Mr Khamphoui said.
According to the department’s statistics, around 18,000 foreigners visited this month, a decline of almost 1,000 tourists compared to the same period last year.
The number of foreign visitors to the province has been on the decline recently, even during the ever popular Lao New Year celebrations.
Mr Khamphoui emphasised that it was up to the province and the Lao National Tourism Administration to come up with a strategy to attract more visitors.
Source: Vientiane Times
By Phonesavanh Sangsomboun
June 01, 2010
June 2nd, 2010, 10:17 AM
Luang Prabang airport upgrade takes off
A project to expand Luang Prabang International Airport broke ground on Saturday with the government aiming to provide better facilities and build confidence among international airlines.
The improvements are in response to the growing number of tourists visiting Laos’s second city to experience the many attractions of the World Heritage town.
The government of China is providing a low-interest loan to build the airport.
The airport expansion will cost more than US$86 million and will take 52 months to complete. The project will be operated by China CAMCE, a Chinese construction company.
A ceremony to mark the start of construction was held at the airport and attended by Luang Prabang provincial Governor Bounheuang Duangphachan, Deputy Minister of Public Works and Transport Sithong Thongkeo and other high-ranking officials.
Deputy Director General of the ministry’s Civil Aviation Department, Mr Vanpheng Chanthaphone, said the upgraded airport will be able to accommodate bigger aircraft, especially Boeing 737s and Airbus 320s, in response to national development needs.
A new runway, made of concrete and measuring 2,900m by 45m, will be built as part of the project. New taxiways and a new passenger terminal, covering an area of 9,800 square metres, will also be built.
The existing airport can only accommodate 72- and 60-seater ATR aircraft and the runway is only 2,200m in length.
Officials say safety standards and commercial activities will improve following the completion of the project.
There are currently flights between Luang Prabang and neighbouring countries including Thailand and Vietnam.
The number of foreign tourists to the province reached around 245,000 people in 2009, a 5.38 percent increase from the year before.
Officials believe more tourists will travel to Laos by air once the airport expansion is complete.
Source: Vientiane Times
June 01, 2010
June 2nd, 2010, 10:19 AM
Debate over hydropower vs. tourism heats up
The building of a planned hydropower plant near Khone Phapheng waterfall in southern Laos is being hotly debated by developers and local tourism officials, with the government expressing concern the plant will have a negative impact on tourism.
One of the largest waterfalls in Asia, the Khone Phapheng is located on the Mekong River in Khong district, Champassak province, and is a perennial tourist draw.
The Ministry of Energy and Mines kicked off a consultation workshop yesterday, aiming to allow developers of the Thakho hydropower project and tourism officials to discuss the possibility of developing both the power plant and local tourism.
Vice President of the Lao National Tourism Administration, Mr Vang Rattanvong, and a number of tourism and senior government officials attended the workshop.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting, Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines Somboun Rasasombath said the government wanted to build the plant to generate more power for the southern provinces, which need wider access to electricity to drive economic development.
But the government also wants to develop Khone Phapheng waterfall and the surrounding area as one of the top tourist destinations in Laos, he said, with the aim of creating local jobs and income to reduce poverty.
“The discussion today is about whether it is possible to shoot two birds with one bullet,” said Mr Somboun.
The developers of the Thakho Hydropower Project are Electricite du Laos, one of the largest state owned enterprises in Laos, and the French company CNR (Companie du Rhone).
The two companies signed an agreement to form a partnership for the Thakho hydropower project in September 2008 after gaining support from Champassak authorities to conduct a feasibility study and subsequently develop the project.
The partners then signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Lao government at the end of 2009, obtaining legal backing to spend 18 months conducting the feasibility study and assessing the environmental impacts of the project in Khong district.
The feasibility and environmental impact study is now 50 percent complete after reporting the results of earlier studies to Champassak authorities, which suggested it was possible to develop both hydropower and tourism in the area surrounding the waterfall.
The study shows there are many examples around the world of hydropower plants providing better tourism opportunities due to improved infrastructure, energy access and accommodation.
Khone Phapheng waterfall and its surrounds are a top tourist draw, attracting local and overseas tourists every year.
The large drop over the length of the waterfall also holds considerable potential for energy generation. The planned powerhouse would have a capacity of 50MW.
Laos could generate a total of about 26,500MW from hydropower sources, excluding the mainstream Mekong River, of which about 18,000MW is technically exploitable.
Laos has 10 hydropower plants in operation and another 17 plants in the planning stage, while 45 more are undergoing feasibility studies.
Source: Vientiane Times
By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
June 01, 2010
June 3rd, 2010, 08:22 AM
University of Health Sciences to build new campus
The University of Health Sciences and related organisations are conducting a land survey in Xiengda village, Xaysettha district, Vientiane, with an eye to building a new campus for the university.
University Vice President Associate Professor Dr Sing Menorath expects a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start of construction to take place towards the end of this year. The project is anticipated to be complete within five years.
“The new campus will improve on our existing facilities by providing modern teaching and learning conditions,” Dr Sing said.
The new complex will help to ease the burden of growing enrolment at the university. It is expected that half of the 4,000 students currently studying at the university's existing campus in Kao-nhod village, Sisattanak district, will relocate to the new facility.
Dr Sing said the present campus is too small and the buildings are inadequate for modern university teaching.
“Some students will continue to attend classes there. However, we have not yet decided which faculties will move to the new campus and which will remain.”
The new campus will cover an area of 50 hectares and will eventually include student dormitories, a hospital and canteen.
The new facility will have laboratories and practice rooms with modern equipment for use by teachers and students.
Construction of the new campus is expected to cost more than 200 billion kip (US$25 million) and will be financed by the government of Vietnam, while the Lao government will contribute the land and other facilities.
The Vietnamese government will initially provide more than 90 billion kip (US$11 million) for the first phase of the project. In addition to construction costs, the financial assistance from Vietnam also includes training for teachers at the university, a teacher recruitment drive, and further learning materials.
The university currently has about 300 teachers teaching 4,000 students. Some teachers also work at various hospitals around Vientiane.
“We need more than 100 extra teachers. I believe that this new campus will help the university to attract more teachers and solve the problem,” said Dr Sing.
The university also plans to improve its curriculum to reduce the gap in education standards between Laos and other countries in the region and the world
June 3rd, 2010, 08:42 AM
WREA gives green light for construction of small hydro plant
Posted on 02 Jun 2010 at 11:45am
Advertisement (KPL) The Electricite Du Laos and CNR Company had formally agreed in 2008 to jointly carry out a feasibility and development study of the proposed Tha Khor Hydropower Plant and with the intention to jointly construct such a plant, in Khong district, Champassak province.
A discussion on the study was held in the premises of Electricite Du Laos on 31 May, under the chairmanship of Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines, Mr. Somboun Rasasombath and relevant officials from the two sides were present.
The study covered areas such as the impact of this hydro plant on the environment and people and the viability of the entire project.
This is a small hydropower project and it was aimed at supplying electricity to the people who lived in the vicinity.
The contract company had completed the first draft on economic analysis, environment and social impact in 2009.
The Water Resources an Environment Administration had given the green light for this project in February this year.
Source: KPL Lao News Agency
June 02, 2010
June 3rd, 2010, 08:46 AM
Luang Prabang focuses on construction of sport facilities
Posted on 02 Jun 2010 at 11:42am
Advertisement (KPL) Luang Prabang province is focusing on construction of sport facilities infrastructure, particularly a new complex stadium for the upcoming 9th National Games in 2011 in Luang Prabang province.
The province is also improving some old stadium, communication and road. The construction is under authority of Sport Service of Luang Prabang province.
The new sport complex is built on a total 50 ha, located in Nasangveuy village, district and province of Luang Prabang.
Presently the construction work of new sports complex has competed 50 per cent. The new stadium include petanque field, beach and indoor volleyball, shooting range, basketball fields and a swimming pool, said Mr. Chandy Bounnong, Head of Sport Service of Luang Prabang province.
Mr. Chandy said that the new sport complex has a total investment of 130 billion kip by the Lao government. In addition we have a plan to construct a dormitory on 3 ha to accommodate the athletes.
A football stadium is located at Naluang village and is 10 km far away from the downtown would be improved, said Chandy.
This stadium can accommodate over 3,000 audiences and this stadium will also use for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 9th National Games in 2011.
To improve the Luang Prabang athletes’ skills, Luang Prabang province has sent athletes to compete a sport competition in Borikhamsay province to mark the 44th anniversary founding of Lao sport.
Source: KPL Lao News Agency
June 02, 2010
June 4th, 2010, 06:30 AM
Greater Mekong: Construction of 4th Thai-Lao bridge begins next month
CHIANG RAI, May 14 (TNA) – Construction of the fourth Thai-Lao bridge, connecting Thailand’s Chiang Rai with China’s Kunming is set to start in June, according to Thai Transport Minister Sophon Zarum.
The fourth North-South Economic Corridor Intenational Bridge Project (Houayxay-Chiang Khong) will be finished in November 2012, he said.
The signing ceremony on the bridge construction was carried out Friday by Mr Sophon and his Lao counterpart.
The Bt1.5 billion (US$46 million) budget for the bridge construction is paid half and half by Thailand and China, he said.
Lao Minister of Communications, Transport, Posts and Construction Sommat Phonsena said that the Lao PDR was glad that Thai authorities will construct the bridge as Laos is a landlocked country and the bridge will help connect Laos with neighboring countries to boost trade and tourism.
Thai Highways Department director-general Veera Ruangsooksriwong said that an eight-year feasibility study of the project was conducted.
The project will link Chiang Rai and Kunming by route R3A under the Strategic Framework of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Cooperation.
The level of the project’s economic value measured by the studies is at level two, higher than the standard level at one.
The Highway Department outlined and designed the detail of the project. The CR5- KT Joint Venture (China’s Railway No. 5 Engineering Group and the Krung Thon Engineers Co.) have been hired to operate the project. (TNA)
Stolen from Napolean in the Thai forum
June 4th, 2010, 07:14 AM
Laos set for capitalist leap into stock market
By Jared Ferrie Jared Ferrie – Thu Jun 3, 6:26 am ET
VIENTIANE (Reuters) – Isolated for decades behind Asia's bamboo curtain, communist Laos will soon take a great leap into the global capitalist marketplace with the launch of a stock exchange to fuel a quiet mining and hydro-power boom.
Government officials in one of the world's few remaining communist countries say economic liberalization will not affect the regime's hold on power in a country with ambitions to emulate China's market-based authoritarianism.
But they hope the bourse, due to be opened later this year, will pull the nation of six million people out of poverty by injecting much-needed capital into the economy, in particular hydro-power and mining, which are seeing a wave of foreign investment as commodity prices rebound.
"There is huge potential in development but limited sources of financing," said Vathana Dalaloy, deputy secretary general of the country's newly formed Securities and Exchange Commission, which is setting up the bourse as a $20-million joint venture with Korea Exchange, Asia's fourth-largest bourse operator.
Plans for the exchange also cast a spotlight on one of the world's last remaining hermit economies where annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth has averaged more than 7 percent over recent years, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
GDP was worth about $6 billion in 2009, according to World Bank data, with GDP per capita of nearly $900 compared with $4,000 in neighboring Thailand.
With numerous rivers flowing through its misty, forest-clad mountains, Laos wants to become the "battery of Southeast Asia," selling power to its energy-hungry neighbors. Its jungles are also rich in minerals, attracting miners.
China's Minmetals Corp is expanding annual production at its Sepon copper mine in Savannakhet province to about 80,500 tonnes of cathode by next year from about 65,000 tonnes last year. Vietnam's top coal miner Vinacomin said in January it planned to carry out exploration in Laos this year.
Padaeng Industry Pcl, Southeast Asia's only zinc producer, said in April it plans to close a northern Thailand mine and focus on developing new mines in Laos. Other players include PanAust, an Australia-listed mining company that runs the Phu Kham copper-gold mine.
HYDRO AND MINING
Hydro-power and mining companies were expected to be the first to list on the stock exchange, along with telecommunications and manufacturing firms, Vathana said.
Electricite du Laos, one of the largest state-owned companies, has announced plans to sell a minority stake to cover costs of new power plants in rural areas.
A government power development plan calls for 55 large dams, including seven now under construction, but foreign investors are needed to help fund such big projects.
"If you want to open your country, you have to make an access road. If you want to connect with the global market, you have to create your own stock market," said Industry and Commerce Minister Nam Viyaketh.
Foreign investors, drawn to one of Asia's most exotic markets, are taking interest.
Banpu, Thailand's largest coal miner, announced this year plans to spend $255 million over the next six years in its 40 percent-owned Hongsa power plant -- a $3.5 billion project that will be the country's largest power plant when complete.
That follows this year's completion of the $1.45 billion Nam Theun 2 hydro plant, a 1,086-megawatt dam stretching 200 km (125 miles) along the Nakai Plateau in mountainous central Laos that stoked environmental concerns when it began operating in March.
Environmental group International Rivers said the dam was preventing access to clean water and destroying critical food sources without providing compensation, but that hasn't stopped the flow of investment.
Thailand's Electricity Generating Pcl, a partner of Hong Kong's largest power utility, CLP Holdings Ltd, said this year it was keen raise its 25-percent stake in Nam Theun by another 10 to 15 percent.
Earlier generations of Lao communists, who joined forces with comrades in neighboring Vietnam to battle French colonial forces and later U.S. troops, might bristle at such deals.
But Nam, the Industry and Commerce Minister, said lessons had been learned since the communists took over in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War. "We denied private property. We said 'everything belongs to the government'. We nationalized everything.
"It was a mistake."
Realizing its policies were stifling development, the government decided in 1986 to take steps toward liberalization including opening up to tourism, which at the time was beginning to boom in neighboring Thailand.
Tourism has since become the second-largest sector of the Lao economy, with the number of visitors more than doubling from 894,806 in 2004 to more than 2 million last year, according to the National Tourism Administration.
In 2006, the government formally recognized the private sector as the engine of economic growth, said Christopher Hnanguie, an economist with the Asian Development Bank who observed Vietnam launching its stock exchange in 2000.
Cambodia, the third of the former French Indochina colonies to become communist at the end of the Vietnam War, plans to hold a launch ceremony for the exchange on October 10, although trading won't begin until next year.
Vietnam launched its bourse in 2000 with initial market capitalization of $43 million. Today, Vietnam's market is worth nearly $33 billion.
Hnanguie said risks for the Lao exchange include insider trading and capital flight, noting Vietnam's stock market had a rocky start with allegations of insider trading and unrealistically high expectations of quick returns.
When immediate profits did not materialize, many people pulled their money out. Most initial investors were Vietnamese who had returned home after making money overseas.
There could be parallels in Laos, he said.
"It's the expat Lao who have the capital," said Hnanguie. "If they feel the stock market is not appropriately being managed or if there is insider trading, they'll take their money and go."
But Hnanguie said he was "more positive than negative" about the bourse's prospects. "Those who want to take risks, put money right away and take it out after eight months. Those who do not want to take risks, wait for two years," he said.
(Editing by Robert Birsel and Lincoln Feast
June 4th, 2010, 07:16 AM
Laos Airport Expansion to be funded by China
Air, News 12 hours ago
Share Laos has received a loan from China on low-interest to upgrade Luang Prabang International Airport to accommodate increased passenger traffic.
The airport expansion, expected to be complete in 52 months, will cost over $86m.It will include the construction of a new concrete runway, measuring 2,900m by 45m, and a new 9,800m² terminal to accommodate Boeing 737s and Airbus 320s.
Currently, the airport’s 2,200m runway can only accommodate 72 and 60-seat ATR aircraft.
June 4th, 2010, 07:20 AM
Najib: Avoidance of double taxation will boost M'sia-Laos trade ties
VIENTIANE: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak believes Malaysia-Laos bilateral trade ties will scale greater heights in the years ahead with the signing of the double taxation avoidance agreement between the two members of the Asean regional grouping.
He said the agreement would pave the way for the strengthening of existing bilateral relations between the two friendly nations.
“I believe more Malaysian companies will come forward to invest in Laos. Today itself two companies signed an agreement with their Laotian counterparts here to develop a RM2.2 billion hydro-electric project.
"Another agreement is to develop an industrial site costing US$26 million (RM85 million) at the Special Economic Zone,” he told Malaysian journalists covering his two-day visit to Laos.
Najib said currently Malaysia was the ninth largest investor in Laos, with total investments amounting to US$151.3 million between 2000 and last year.
"This amount can be increased in future," he said.
The prime minister said prospects of economic collaborations between Malaysia and Laos were good, with Laos' economy slated to grow at 7% to 7.5% in a year or two.
“I've given an assurance that Malaysia's assistance to Laos under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme will be continued as Vientiane benefited from the assistance extended to develop human resource capabilities among its officials," he said.
Najib also said he had conveyed to his Laotian counterpart Bouasone Bouphavanh on the scholarship offer by the Cyberjaya-based Limkokwing University of Creative Technoloy to 20 Laotian students.
He said Laos had also agreed to support Malaysia's bid for one of the non-permanent member seats in the United Nations Security Council in 2015.
On Malaysia-Laos direct air links, Najib said Laos hoped AirAsia, which flies thrice a week to Vientiane, would consider flying to another destination in the south -- Pak Se -- which has been declared a World Heritage Town by the United Nations.
Earlier, speaking at a business luncheon, Najib praised Loatian government’s reform initiatives to make the business environment more conducive for the private sector.
He said Laos was also in the final stage of accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
"Once this process is completed, it will provide extra confidence to the business community to expand its business dealings in Laos," he said.
Najib said Laos was also making substantial progress in trade liberalisation efforts within the Asean context in meeting the 2015 deadline.
He said the move would provide the opportunity for both countries to bolster bilateral trade.
"(Currently) two-way trade is narrow and confined to only a few products. Total trade between Malaysia and Laos last year was only US$6.8 million.
"The main Malaysian imports from Laos were metal and timber products while Malaysian exports comprised mainly fabrics and yarn.
“Certainly there is scope for expanding bilateral trade given the lower tariffs under Asean Free Trade Agreement.
"Let's find ways to work together not only to enhance our bilateral trade but also form strategic partnerships to take advantage of the opportunities arising from the greater regional economic integration,” he added.
June 4th, 2010, 07:42 AM
MALAYSIA TO HELP LAOS DEVELOP HUMAN CAPITAL, ATHLETES
VIENTIANE, June 3 (NNN-Bernama): Malaysia will help Laos produce human capital and develop national athletes, in accordance with two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed between the two countries Thursday.
Higher Education Minister Mohamed Khaled Nordin said that under the MoU on higher education, Malaysia was prepared to train Laotian academicians in managing the higher education sector, especially in terms of quality assurance.
He said this was in line with Laotian government's policy which gave emphasis to developing human capital.
The MoU also covers the sending of Laotian students to Malaysia to pursue tertiary education in various fields.
"Laos can also learn from Malaysia's experience if it wishes to involve the private sectors in developing human capital because in Malaysia we already have 45 private institutions of higher learning and hundreds of private colleges," he told the Malaysian media here Thursday.
Mohamed Khaled said a working group would be set up to identify the best suitable human capital development plan to be implemented for the purpose.
Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the determination shown by Laos in hosting the Sea Games in December last year reflected the Laotian government's seriousness in enhancing the capability of its athletes.
He said that under the MoU signed between the two countries on sports development, Malaysia would offer venues like the Bukit Jalil Sports Complex for the Laotian athletes to undergo training before participating in any major sports meet.
Ahmad Shabery also said that Malaysia was willing to help Laos in the technical aspect if it planned to host more major sport events.
He said that during the last Sea Games, Malaysia had helped Laos in terms of sports management.http://namnewsnetwork.org/v2/read.php?id=122471
June 6th, 2010, 08:07 AM
WAY CLEAR FOR GREATER MALAYSIAN INVESTMENT IN LAOS
VIENTIANE, June 5 (NNN-Bernama) -- With the signing of the double taxation avoidance agreement between Malaysia and Laos on Thursday, the way is clear for more Malaysian companies to seriously consider the business and investment potentials in the Asean partner.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who witnessed the signing of the agreement during his two-day official visit which concluded Thursday, believes that Malaysia-Laos trade ties will scale greater heights in the years ahead.
Now, it is up to the business communities to tap the vast opportunities in this country whose economy is slated to grow at the rate of seven to 7.5 per cent in a year or two.
Currently, Malaysia is the ninth largest investor country in Laos, with total investments amounting to US$151.3 million (RM495.3 million) between 2000 and last year, and Najib believes that his amount can increase in future.
Najib said the agreement would pave the way for the strengthening of existing bilateral relations between the two friendly nations.
The Laotian government had, since 1986, taken reform initiatives to turn the business environment more conducive for the private sector. It has gradually returned to private enterprise and liberalised foreign investment laws.
Najib said Laos was also in the final stage of accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
"Once this process is completed, it will provide extra confidence to the business community to expand business dealings in Laos," he said.
Najib said Laos was also making substantial progress in trade liberalisation efforts within the Asean context in meeting the 2015 deadline.
He said the move would provide the opportunity for both countries to bolster bilateral trade.
Currently, two-way trade is narrow and confined to only a few products. Total trade between Malaysia and Laos last year was only US$6.8 million (RM22.2 million).
Main Malaysian imports from Laos are metal and timber products while Malaysian exports comprise mainly fabrics and yarn.
"Let's find ways to work together not only to enhance our bilateral trade but also form strategic partnerships to take advantage of the opportunities arising from the greater regional economic integration," Najib had said in his remarks before leaving for home.http://www.namnewsnetwork.org/v2/read.php?id=122662
June 8th, 2010, 04:13 AM
HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM - Laos, one of Asia's poorest nations, dreams of escaping from underdevelopment over the next decade but concerns have been raised about a growth strategy based on hydropower and other megaprojects.
The communist country's Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh told global business leaders and regional politicians Sunday that his country aims for 'no less than' eight percent annual economic growth to 2015.
Laos's economy has already been expanding at an annual average of seven percent in recent years, and the government aims 'to lift the country from underdevelopment by 2020,' Bouasone told the World Economic Forum on East Asia.
But a group of non-governmental organisations in the rural-based society have urged the government to consider slowing the pace and scale of large foreign investment projects which, the group said, form the basis of the country's growth strategy.
'Massive investments have been made in extractive industries: mining, hydropower and industrial plantations,' the INGO Network said in a submission to the government.
'The main characteristics of such investments are: they are land-intensive, there is little value added in Laos, the labour force is often foreign, and there are high and potentially negative impacts on the environment and socio-economic development.'
NGOs also asked the government to consider 'a more cautious development' of commercial agriculture which small, self-sufficient farmers in remote areas will have trouble adjusting to.
Laos has a population of about seven million and is highly dependent on foreign donors.
The INGO Network, which includes more than 60 foreign NGOs working in Laos, made its comments to help the government prepare its seventh National Socio-Economic Development Plan, from 2011-2015.
AFP obtained a copy of the INGO document, which recommended that the government take greater measures to assure social development, and to close disparities in income and access to health and education services.
The NGOs urged the government to apply stronger mechanisms to ensure foreign investors comply with their commitments on labour conditions, development assistance and other areas.
They added there should be adequate monitoring of the environmental impact of foreign-invested projects, and said the government should consider the feasibility of investments in small-scale decentralised power facilities as an alternative to large-scale dams.
Laos this year finished its largest infrastructure project, the Nam Theun 2 hydropower facility, a 1.45-billion-dollar Lao-French-Thai development with a generating capacity of 1,070 megawatts.
More than 6,000 villagers were relocated to make way for the reservoir.
Thailand will buy about 95 percent of production from the plant in central Laos on the Nam Theun river, a tributary of the Mekong.
The power company said Laos will earn royalties, dividends and taxes estimated at more than two billion dollars over 25 years, money the government has pledged to spend on poverty reduction.
State media in Vietnam reported in January that a Vietnamese company is developing a one-billion-dollar golf and tourist resort, which would also be one of the largest-ever foreign investment projects in the country.
Long Thanh Golf Trading and Investment Co said it had begun construction of the project in the Lao capital Vientiane. The development will include an 18-hole golf course, five-star hotel and villas as well as a school and hospital facilities, the report said.
The prime minister, Bouasone, told the World Economic Forum that Laos wants to embrace sustainable development as the country, locked between Thailand and Vietnam, seeks to transforms itself into a hub for the Mekong sub-region.
June 13th, 2010, 02:20 AM
PM's decree paves way for stock exchange
The Lao government has enacted a Prime Ministerial decree providing legal back up for the establishment and operation of the Lao Securities Exchange (LSX), according to a top market regulator.
LSX Commission Chairman, Mr Somsavat Lengsavad, announced on Wednesday that Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh signed the decree on securities and a securities market on May 24, creating a key legal reference for investors and companies to follow in the establishment and operation of the stock market.
Mr Somsavat Lengsavad presides over the commission meeting in Vientiane.
Mr Somsavat, who is also Standing Deputy Prime Minister, made the announcement at the opening of the 3rd meeting of the LSX Commission held at the Bank of the Lao PDR in Vientiane.
Senior commission members from ministries and the sectors concerned attended the half day meeting, which aimed to review and plan the commission's work.
Mr Somsavat said he was satisfied with the preparations for the LSX so far, adding that construction of facilities and development of IT systems are progressing well.
The commission members discussed issues including regulations relating to the establishment and operation of the stock market, regulations on initial public offerings, the date on which the LSX will open, and which companies will be initially listed on the exchange.
Participants also discussed tax policies to encourage companies to list on the market.
President of the LSX Establishment Committee, Mr Dethphouvang Moularath, said Mr Somsavat had charged the relevant sectors to continue discussions on the issues in order to find the best mechanisms for effective establishment and operation of the stock market.
The government plans to open the LSX in October this year in a move to enable private and state-owned enterprises to raise public funds to expand their businesses, creating jobs and income for Lao people.
The exchange is another step towards a market oriented economy in line with the opening-up policy of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party after the failure of the centrally planned economy.
It is hoped the exchange will increase investment in the country and help further boost economic growth as the government works to remove Laos from the UN's list of least developed countries by 2020.
The government is cooperating with the Korean Stock Exchange to establish and operate the LSX, hoping to complete all facilities before the planned opening ceremony in October.
The Lao government has a 51 percent share in the exchange, with the remainder belonging to the Korean partner.
Construction of the stock market building is now underway.
Although an opening ceremony will take place at the end of this year, there is no confirmed date for when local companies will be allowed to list on the market and when trading would begin, according to Mr Dethphouvang.
June 13th, 2010, 03:05 AM
Mekong Sub-region nations vow to develop infrastructure
Five countries along Asia's Mekong River pledged Sunday to put more investments on transport infrastructure development to enhance connectivity and maintain sustainable economic growth.
The commitments were made by the five prime ministers of the sub-region countries -- Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam -- at a session themed: Region Growth and Leadership at the ongoing World Economic Forum on East Asia.
Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said the regional countries should mobilize investment capital from East Asian partners and other countries for infrastructure development process.
The regional countries should create favorable conditions to apply a public-private partnership mechanism for the development of transport and urban infrastructure networks, Dung said.
Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said a common logistics network should be set up. Thai ministries and agencies have joined hands with East Asian partners of China and Japan for more soft loans for infrastructure development in the regional, he said.
A special fund should be set up to support the regional countries, he said.
Laos will continue actively building railway and road transport infrastructure networks linking China's southern province of Yunnan, its capital city of Vientiane, and parts of central Vietnam, Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh said.
Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen also agreed to boost transport, energy infrastructure development.
Myanmar Prime Minister U Thein Sein held that enhanced connectivity would help regional countries improve cooperation to maintain sustainable agricultural production.
The Mekong sub-region consists of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China's Yunnan and Guangxi.
June 14th, 2010, 05:10 PM
THAI PM PLEDGES TO STRENGTHEN THAI-LAO RELATIONS
BANGKOK, June 14 (NNN-TNA) -- The Thai government will foster ties with the Lao Peoples' Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) both at the bilateral level and as a fellow member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in terms of security and economy, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Monday.
Mr Abhisit presided over the opening of a meeting of Thai and Lao diplomats on the occasion of the upcoming 60th anniversary of the establishment of Thai-Lao diplomatic relations on December 19, 1950.
Thai foreign minister Kasit Piromya, the Thai and Lao ambassadors and consuls-general, as well as provincial governors along the Thai-Lao border attended the meeting at Radisson Hotel in Bangkok amid tight security.
The Thai prime minister said the exchange of visits, in particular the high-level visit, is also another important factor in addition to economy and security cooperation that helps strengthen bilateral relations.
Mr Abhisit said Thailand's Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s visits to Laos in particular as well as assistance in several fields contributes to stronger ties between the two countries.
Thailand and Laos should integrate transportation, customs and immigration systems to facilitate people of bothcountries, the Thai prime minister suggested.http://namnewsnetwork.org/v2/read.php?id=123692
June 16th, 2010, 11:06 AM
Chinese VP arrives at Vientiane to visit Laos
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping arrived in Vientiane, capital of the Lao People's Democratic Republic, on Tuesday, kicking off his official visit to the country.
Xi's tour is the first visit of a Chinese vice president to the southern Asian country.
In a written speech at the airport upon his arrival, Xi said China and Laos boast profound traditional friendship, and last year the two countries have established a comprehensive strategic partnership.
The Chinese vice president said he was looking forward to exchanging views on bilateral relations and other issues of common concern with Lao leaders.
Laos is the second leg of Xi's four-nation trip, and he will also visit New Zealand and Australia.http://english.people.com.cn/90001/90776/90883/7026940.html
Laos, India to expand irrigation systems
The Lao and Indian governments agreed on Friday they would work jointly to develop irrigation in Champassak province, with India to provide technical assistance for irrigation development and management.
The agreement was signed in Vientiane by Director General of the Department of Irrigation (DOI) of Laos, Dr Khamphad Sourinphoumy, and Chairman and Managing Director of the Water and Power Consultancy Service Company (WAPCOS) of India, Mr RK Gupta.
Lao Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Sitaheng Rasphone, and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources of India, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, witnessed the signing.
Dr Khamphad said “As all of you are already aware, the Indian government is providing soft credit of about US$17 million to implement the project with close cooperation between DOI and WAPCOS. A feasibility report for the project in Champassak is being finalised, and implementation will begin after the signing of this work plan.”
He said a secondment of US$30 million in soft credit for irrigation development and management had been requested from the Indian government by Laos, and an MOU for a feasibility study between DOI and WAPCOS was signed in March this year.
“I would like WAPCOS to actively carry out the activities as specified in the work plan in close collaboration with the line agencies concerned at the central, provincial and district levels for successful project implementation,” Dr Khamphad said.
Through the MOU, the Department of Irrigation intends to develop irrigation systems in Laos through four projects. These are the Nam Xang dam in Xayaboury province, Nam Nga in Vientiane province, Houay Vanghe in Champassak province, and the Houay Yang Noi dam, pumps and canal system in the Xe Banghieng river basin in Savannakhet province.
Under the work plan, WAPCOS has agreed to carry out a prefeasibility study on techno-economic aspects of these projects during the period 2010-2012.
WAPCOS will provide technical assistance to ensure the success of all four irrigation projects on mutually agreed terms.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry expressed its appreciation and gratitude to the Indian government for agreeing to help Laos with water resource management and development.
The project will include short term training programmes on water resource management for the relevant agencies. http://www.asianewsnet.net/home/news.php?id=12495
June 28th, 2010, 05:46 AM
Laos hydropower project on Mekong faces opposition
A civic group has opposed the Laos government's plan to build the Xayaburi hydropower plant, the first dam in the Lower Mekong River's mainstream, as more than 40 villages in Laos will be adversely affected and need to be relocated.
Pianporn Deetes from Save the River Coalition said the Xayaburi Dam will affect more than 40 villages along the mekong River, from Louangprabang province to Xayaburi province.
This dam will also affect the incubation of freshwater tropical fish such as giant catfish and other aquatic life as the construction will destroy the islets and boulders where the mekong giant catfish lay their eggs.
She said the river run-off Xayaburi Dam is the first dam that will be built in the Lower mekong River's mainstream.
The dam will produce 1,260 megawatts of power. The plan to build this hydropower dam was initiated by the Laos government. Thai company Ch Karnchang will invest Bt90 billion in its construction. The total project cost is expected to exceed 100 billion baht (US$3 billion).
According to the report entitled 'MRC Sea for hydropower on the Mekong Mainstream inception Report Vol II', the inundated area of the Xayaburi dam will cover 49 square kilometres and the length of the reservoir will be 90km.
Construction will take seven and a half years. About 10 villages, 391 households, and 2,130 people will need to be relocated.
Electricity generated from the plant will be sold to the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) in 2019.
Meanwhile, local villagers living along the river voiced concern that the dam construction should not affect their original livelihood.
A villager, who did not want to be named and lives near the Xayaburi site, said he had not been given much information about the impact of the dam.
He said staff from a Thai construction company had surveyed the site and asked the villagers to move to another location.
The villagers were told that the company will build their houses at another location and will also construct road, provide water supply and electricity.
Additionally, villagers who own teak farms will be paid 150,000 kip ($19) per teak as compensation.
The villagers were also worried that the construction of the dam might affect fisheries and fish migration in the Mekong River.
A villager said the company staff had told them that they will build a fish ladder. Additionally, the company's staff also told them that they will build a special channel to facilitate passage for boats.
This village is more than 150 years old, with most of the villagers making their money from fish harvesting and agricultural plantation.
"We will not move to the other location until the construction of our new houses are finished," a 50-year-old villager said.
Another 47-year-old villager said he does not want to move to the other location due to sentimental attachment for the present village.
He said his village was located near the mekong River and he could harvest fish to earn his livelihood. If he moves to the other location, he is not sure what he could do to earn his livelihood.
About 780 people live in his village. All of them have to move to the other location when the dam construction starts. Most of the villagers in his village are farmers and fishermen.
"Villagers are now worried about their future as they do not want to move to the other location," he said
However, Pianporn added that the proposal to build the Xayaburi Dam will be put in the Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement, which states that if a country is to build hydropower dams on a mekong tributary, it must notify the Joint Committee of the Mekong River Commission (MRC).
Then Ch Karnchang will submit the feasibility and impact assessment report to the Laos government, which would forward this report to MRC members.http://www.asianewsnet.net/home/news.php?id=12771
June 28th, 2010, 02:17 PM
Singapore Sees Economic Potential In Laos
Source: Government of Singapore
Posted on: 27th June 2010
IE Singapore helps companies internationalise & explore opportunities in Laos.
Opening Address by Mr Lee Yi Shyan Minister of State for Trade & Industry and Manpower at the Laos Investment Seminar 2010 on Friday, 25 Jun 2010.
Your Excellency Mr Somsavat Lengsavad, Standing Deputy Prime Minister, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Distinguished Speakers, Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is my pleasure to join you at today’s “Laos Investment Seminar 2010”. Let me begin by extending a very warm welcome and appreciation to His Excellency Mr Somsavat Lengsavad, Standing Deputy Prime Minister, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, for taking the time to grace this seminar despite his busy schedule.
I recall that in 2008, in conjunction with Laos Prime Minister Bouasane Boupavanh’s state visit to Singapore, IE Singapore and Singapore Business Federation had co-organised a similar seminar to introduce Laos as a new frontier for business opportunities.
Riding on the interests generated by that seminar, today’s event is timely to update our business people on the latest developments and investment climate in Laos. As the global economy begins to recover from the severe economic crisis of 2008-2009, many Singapore companies are also on the lookout for attractive investment propositions abroad.
Judging by the good turnout at this today’s seminar, I am confident that our private sector is even more enthusiastic about investment opportunities in Laos.
LAOS’ ECONOMIC POTENTIAL
Increasingly, Laos is becoming an attractive investment destination in a wide range of sectors. This includes logistics, infrastructure, agriculture, hospitality, tourism and professional services, real estate and manufacturing. In 2009, Laos economy expanded by over 6%, registering one of the highest growth rates in South East Asia. Its strong economic performance is also reflected in the country’s improving investment climate, which attracted US$510 million in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2008, almost 10-fold the amount in 2001. The robust growth in FDI is not only a testimony of the Laos’ pro-business attitude, but also a mark of confidence by international investors in Laos’ economic potential.
SINGAPORE’S ECONOMIC INTERESTS IN LAOS
Singapore companies’ interest in Laos is underpinned by the warm bilateral economic relations that both countries enjoy. This can be seen from the increase in bilateral trade activities and rising investments by Singapore companies in Laos. For the first four months of 2010, bilateral trade increased nearly 20% year-on-year, to reach S$15.8 million. Investments by Singapore companies in Laos from 2001 to 2009 reached some US$108 million, making Singapore Laos’ 10th largest foreign investor.
Our companies’ interests in Laos span various sectors, including the real state, manufacturing and hospitality sectors. Some recent Singapore companies’ investments include Olam’s 625-ha coffee plantation in Savanakhet province and Crescendas Group’s re-development of Talat Sao, a morning market in Vientiane, into a modern day shopping complex. In 2006, Asia Pacific Breweries formed a joint venture with the Laos government and SBK Consultant Limited to establish a new greenfield brewery in Laos, known as Lao Asia Pacific Breweries Limited (LAPB).
IE Singapore and our trade associations have been actively assisting our companies to explore opportunities to grow their business in Laos. Just three months ago, IE Singapore, the Container Depot Association of Singapore (CDAS) and the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) jointly led a trade mission to Laos, which drew interests from 15 companies in various sectors. In particular, logistics was one sector that attracted follow-up business interest. There is good potential here as Laos continues to improve its land connectivity with neighbouring countries to facilitate trade and travel.
As an emerging market close to home, Laos is also a potential investment destination for Singapore SMEs which are seeking opportunities to grow their external wings. To help our companies, including the SMEs, to internationalise, we have put in place various incentive and facilitation schemes. Companies could tap on IE Singapore’s Internationalisation Capability Development Programme (iCDP) and SME Market Access Programme (SME MAP) as they consider expanding their operations into emerging markets like Laos.
The world economy has begun to show signs of turning around. The long-term economic outlook for Asia is bright. Against this sanguine backdrop, the private sectors in Singapore and Laos should seize the opportunities to forge a winning partnership for the future. Today’s seminar is an excellent opportunity for both sides to work together, build networks and translate opportunities into action plans.
On this note, I would like to wish everyone a very engaging and fruitful seminar. Thank you
June 28th, 2010, 02:21 PM
July 2nd, 2010, 04:01 AM
Transport Ministry Mulls Direct Air Link to Pakse in Laos
PUTRAJAYA, 30 JUNE, 2010: The Transport Ministry will study the feasibility of having direct air link to the world heritage town Pakse in Laos, Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said today.
"We will look into it. These are all commercial activities which are actually dependent on viability and passenger load.
“It's up to the airlines whether they are interested to fly or not to fly. They have to study whether the air route is profitable to them or not,” he said.
Earlier, Kong handed excellent service awards to his ministry staff.
Early this month, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the government will ask budget carrier AirAsia to look into adding a second destination to Laos following a request from the Laotian Communications, Transport, Post and Construction Ministry.
Najib had said the Laotian minister made the request to him for direct flights to Pakse during his two-day visit to Laos recently.
Currently, AirAsia is the only Malaysian airline offering thrice weekly direct flights to Laos capital Vientiane though there has been talk that MAS was considering offering direct flights to the land-locked nation.
On AirAsia's plan to fly to Sydney, Kong said the ministry will look into the request.
AirAsia's long-haul arm, AirAsia X, is seeking the right to fly to Sydney as part of the airline's expansion plans and boost services to Melbourne and Perth.
AirAsia Group CEO Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes had said in March the budget carrier hoped to start Kuala Lumpur-Sydney flights in June but was facing opposition from MAS.
July 5th, 2010, 06:02 AM
KFC coming to Laos
Is the dominance of Western fast food coming to Laos?
KFC is due to open its doors to the Lao public on Saturday.
Around the world, eating habits are changing because of the increasing popularity of fast food but will KFC change Lao eating habits?
Vientiane already has a great variety of food on offer with local stalls selling barbecued pork, chicken and duck, and roadside stalls and restaurants serving other local delicacies are seen everywhere.
Due to its former colonial background, Vientiane has always had a reputation for its good French restaurants but also has foods from other ethnic kitchens such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, Italian, Japanese, and Korean.
In Vientiane there have been many inexpensive and often excellent eateries of many culinary varieties except from fast food franchises.
Until recently there have been no McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, or other international food outlets operating in Laos.
In March this year The Pizza Company and Swensen’s entered the Lao market and now KFC will open its doors on Saturday on the riverside Fa Ngum Road.
According to their US website “KFC is part of Yum! Brands, Inc., the world’s largest restaurant company in terms of system restaurants, with more than 36,000 locations around the world.”
There is a Yum! fast food chicken store in Vientiane already but KFC will be the first well known name of an international fast food outlet in Laos.
It has been ‘blogged’ on different sites that what Laos needs to help improve itself globally is to provide more jobs for the people and it is suggested that more franchises like KFC will help this happen.
Lily from Duck Noodle a few doors from where KFC will open said she thought the store would be “good” for Lao people and she doesn’t think it being so close to her will affect her business.
However, some believe it would be better for more Lao franchises to ‘pop up’ around Laos.
We don’t know what the prices will be in Vientiane yet but a burger, chips and drink combo from KFC in Vietnam is VND49,000 and in Australia it is US$6.90.
Even if the prices are similar to Vietnam, which will make it around 22,000 kip, for a little under this you could probably get a much healthier food option.
At KFC a Zinger burger with cheese has a total of 23.1g of fat whereas a local cup of sticky rice can have less than 1g of fat and most papaya salads have less than 1g-8g of fat.
It has been noted that the introduction of KFC outlets throughout Asia in the past decade can be seen as a sign of development.
Some people feel fast food plays a big role in changing the traditional diets of cultures worldwide but some locals don’t think this will happen.
An older Lao lady at a riverfront food stall directly opposite where KFC will open said through an interpreter that she didn’t really care that it was opening and it wouldn’t affect her because people will always want the traditional Asian foods.
Is this first Western fast food franchise the beginning of what has been happening in countries like Vietnam for the past 10 years; will they start popping up everywhere or will the Lao people stick to eating the more traditional Lao food?
Source: Vientiane Times
By Saira Carr
June 25, 2010
Saira Carr is a university student from Australia who is currently doing a one month internship programme at the Vientiane
July 5th, 2010, 06:17 AM
Thailand, Laos expect trade boost from AEC
By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
Published on July 3, 2010
Thailand and Laos are on target to boost bilateral trade to US$4 billion (Bt130 billion) in 2015, thanks to closer economic cooperation under the Asean Economic Community (AEC).
This projection was made at the third bilateral meeting of Thailand's Commerce Ministry and the Laos Ministry of Economics, Trade and Industry in Vientiane this week.
Nuntawan Sakuntanaga, directorgeneral of the Trade Negotiations Department, said both nations were confident that twoway trade will gradually increase.
Laos is expected to double its exports to Thailand from $1 billion in 2006 to $2 billion in 2015.
Bilateral investment is also expected to expand as investors find it easier to move labour and raw materials under the AEC.
As of last year, Thai investment in Laos more than doubled, from $450.9 million in 2005 to $908.6 million.
To promote trade and investment growth, Thailand has asked Laos to reduce its fee collection on Route 3. The Kingdom also wants Laos to clarify its trade and investment rules for Thai investors so that they have clearer information about doing business in Laos.
Nuntawan added that Thailand has helped Laos organise trade exhibitions and provided advice on logistics to help Laos boost its trade with the outside world.
Thailand is Laos' largest trading partner. Bilateral trade between the two neighbours reached $2.1 billion last year. Thai exports to Laos were worth $1.64 billion, while imports from Laos were valued $462.7 million. Thailand logged a trade surplus of $1.17 billion last year. More than 90 per cent of the trade value between the two nations comes from crossborder trading.
Thai exports to Laos jumped 37 per cent year on year to $1.13 billion in the first five months of the year.
Thailand is the largest foreign investor in Laos, with a combined value of $2.64 billion from 2000 to 2009, accounting for 21.7 per cent of the total foreign direct investment value to Laos. So far, 241 projects from Thailand have invested there. Major businesses are in electricity and energy, mining, telecommunications and agriculture.
July 5th, 2010, 06:27 AM
Vice-Premier inspects Luang Prabang airport renovation
(KPL) Mr. Somsavat Lengsavad, Standing Deputy Prime Minister of the Lao PDR, on 21 June visited the northern province of Luang Prabang to inspect its ongoing airport renovation project.
Mr. Somsavat and his delegation received a warm welcome from Mr. Khampheng Saysompheng, Vice-Governor of Luang Prabang province, and a number of local senior officials.
At the construction site, Mr. Sackda Soulisack, owner of the Luang Prabang airport renovation project, briefed Mr. Somsavat and his party by saying that the renovation work started in April 2010 by a Chinese contractor.
The renovation is divided into phases: land clearing for the 2,300m runway construction which is scheduled to be completed by August, 2011. The second phase features the building of an additional 600m runway. The project will also cover the installation of electricity system, equipment for airport control station, terminal construction and some technical offices.
The renovation project to take 52 months will be able to support large aircrafts of international flights.
Source: KPL Lao News Agency
July 02, 2010
July 6th, 2010, 03:45 AM
China to provide loan for Vientiane-China rail link
The Chinese government is providing a concessional loan for the building of a railway from Vientiane to the Laos-China border, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport has announced.
According to its latest report on railway development, the ministry has signed a memorandum of understanding with China's Ministry of Railways to build a rail link between Vientiane and Luang Prabang and on to Boten in Luang Namtha province in the north.
China will pay 70 percent of the cost and the rest will come from a joint Chinese-Lao venture responsible for investing in and operating the railway, according to the MOU.
The joint venture will generate income from railway service charges, which will be used to repay the Chinese loan.
The total construction cost will be unveiled following a survey, Lao National Railway Authority officials said, adding that a feasibility study was already under way.
Minister of Planning and Investment Sinlavong Khouthphaythoune said the Lao government would push for construction of the railway within the next five years.
He said the railway would enable Lao companies to transport goods more cheaply than by road, which was essential if they were to produce goods and deliver services at competitive prices.
“The main barrier to investment is the high cost of transportation,” he told Vientiane Times recently.
Minister of Public Works and Transport Sommath Pholsena told Lao National Assembly members the Vientiane-China railway would turn Laos from a landlocked country into a regional land link, adding that China wanted to use the railway to boost trade with Asean nations.
“China exports goods worth US$4,000 billion to Asean,” he told members at the mid-year session of the Lao National Assembly that ended last week. He said the railway would be economical if it could transport 10 percent of Chinese exports to the region.
Railway officials said the railway will connect to an existing railway running from Thailand, an important trading partner of China.
Thailand gave a loan and grant for the construction of the 3.5km railway from the Vientiane-Nong Khai Friendship Bridge to Thanalaeng train station about 25km outside Vientiane city centre.
Thailand will provide a similar package to help Laos build a 9km railway from Thanalaeng to Khamsavat village in central Vientiane.
The Chinese government will provide a loan to build a railway from Khamsavat village to the Vientiane Industrial Park at km 21, according to the ministry report.
By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update July 05, 2010)
July 6th, 2010, 03:46 AM
Cambodia launches optical cable with Laos
Posted on: Mon, 05 Jul 2010 09:19:02 EDT
PHNOM PENH, Jul 05, 2010 (Xinhua via COMTEX) --
Cambodia on Monday officially launched the operation of the fiber-optical cable network with Laos, officials said the cable operation would help to develop telecommunications between the two countries and help boost economic development
among the countries in the Greater Mekong Sub- region.
The Cambodian Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun said that the construction of the fiber-optical network in Cambodia section, under the soft loan of 17.5 million U.S. dollars from the EXIM Bank of China, had begun in December 2007 and finished in July 2009, with the length of 651 km along the No. 6 Road from Skun town to Siem Reap, and No. 7 Road from Kampong Cham to Trapeang Kreal of Stung Treng province bordering Laos.
The fiber optic cable network has formed as a backbone connecting Cambodia to the existing fiber optic cable in Laos, Thailand, China and Vietnam.
"This is a new achievement in telecommunications sector in Cambodia," said So Khun. "It would boost the development of trades and tourism among those GMS countries."
The GMS consists of six countries -- China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia.
"The optical fiber network would absorb additional benefits, for instance, increasing national income, promoting development of ICT, exchanging new technology and information, transmitting the traffic -- voice, video, data, and internet, and all other telecommunicating services within and widely to the world with the acceptable price," he said.
Khamlouat Sidlakone, minister and president of National Authority of Posts and Telecommunications of Laos, said that the operation of the cable would improve economic development between the two neighboring countries.
"It would facilitate the development of economy and trades between the two nations and people of the GMS countries would take advantages of this project."
The GMS-IS (Information Superhighway) Network was initiated by China and the MOU was signed by the six nations in December 2004, in the hope of establishing a high capacity optical fiber backbone network and the expansion of telecommunications from cities and towns to rural areas for servicing the need of the community.
July 8th, 2010, 12:27 PM
SEZ to attract US$460 million more of investment
(KPL) The Savanh-Seno special economic zone is ambitious to attract more domestic and overseas investment worth more than US$ 465 million till 2013.
The plan is focusing on creating a favourable condition in investment for more than 50 companies, which are expected to create more than 6,000 jobs for local people.
This ambitious plan was disclosed by Mr Bouakham Sisoulath, Party Secretary of the Savanh-Seno special economic zone at the second Party meeting of the entity late last month.
More 25 companies with a registered investment of US$36 million have investing in the Savanh-Seno special economic zone. If compared to 2005′s, the figure shows a rise, mainly by 23 companies.
This was thanks to the close attention of the Party Unit of the Savanh-Seno special economic zone.
The infrastructure development of the Savanh-Seno special economic zone on 234 ha has largely been completed.
Most emerging companies invested in this zone are the Lao Tin Smelting Co. Ltd from Japan, which is the largest factory in the Savan Park followed by logistics service.
Source: KPL Lao News Agency
July 07, 2010
July 8th, 2010, 12:30 PM
Lao-Thai exhibition to boost trade value
Trade between Laos and Thailand has seen rapid growth recently, with the Lao and Thai governments aiming to increase annual bilateral trade value to about 49.5 trillion kip (US$6 billion) over the next three years.
“The two governments plan to reach about 24.7 trillion kip (US$3 billion) in trade this year alone,” said a representative from the Thai Export Promotion Department yesterday in Vientiane.
The present Lao-Thai Trade Exhibition at Lao-ITECC in Xaysettha district of Vientiane is to actively boost trade and investment cooperation between Laos and Thailand to progress towards trade targets, according to the exhibition organisers.
The exhibition is being held to mark both Vientiane's 450th anniversary as Lao capital and the 60th anniversary of Lao-Thai diplomatic relations, and will run until July 11.
The event features Lao and Thai products and services that have been specifically selected for their quality and high potential for developing sales in the two countries.
The objective is not just the sale of excellent products, but also matchmaking between businesses in the two countries and developing partnerships that will lead to trade increases in the future.
This year's event has 370 booths, including 40 for Lao products, a decrease on last year's 443 booths, which saw attendance by about 250,000 visitors and businesspeople from both countries.
The booth numbers have dropped because of stricter goods selection to promote quality.
Items on display from Lao com panies include processed agricultural products, industrial goods, cotton and silk textiles, garments, jewellery, woven bam boo and rattan products, food and drinks, furniture and interior design materials, handmade accessories and CDs of Lao music.
Thai products include food, drinks, fashion, household equipment and decorative items, jewellery, leather, beauty products, education equipment, electronics, car accessories, construction equipment, nursery and healthcare products.
A business matching meeting will draw a large number of officials and businesspeople from Laos and Thailand and is to be the main event at the exhibition, aiming to help build business partnerships, develop the skills of producers, improve products and marketing strategies and promote Lao products both domestically and abroad.
The exhibition will also feature free daily concerts starring bands and popular singers from both countries.
Other attractions will incl ude animal circus acts, free daily screenings of Lao and Thai movies, and free craft activities for children to make paper animals, silk and wire flowers, and soft toys.
The event has been organised by the Thai Export Promotion Department in cooperation with the Lao Promotion and Product Development Department.
The Lao-Thai trade exhibition ha s been organised annually since 2002.
July 8th, 2010, 12:32 PM
Road, bridge linking Luang Prabang to Sayaboury take shape
(KPL) The construction of Road No 4 and a Park Khone-Thadeua bridge linking Luang Prabang to Sayaboury provinces is now five-percent progress after the construction work commenced late last year.
The construction of the US$18.8 million Road No 4 linking Xiengngeun district, Luang Prabang province, to Park Khone area in Sayaboury province and a bridge crossing over the Mekong River from Park Khone to Thadeua in the neighbouring Sayaboury province, which is being carried out by a company from the Republic of Korea.
The majority of the construction cost of the road and bridge, accounting for 80%, is covered by a loan from the Republic of Korea to Lao Government. The rest stems from the Lao Government’s allocations.
Road No 4 is 58 km long and 7 m wide while the bridge is 620-m long and 10.5-m wide.
“The construction is now making a progress of 5 percent of the entire work,” said Mr Sisouk Siphanith, Deputy Head of Road No 4 and Park Khone and Thadeua Bridge Construction linking Luang Prabang to Sayaboury provinces.
This project will take 24 months, which is expected to complete in mid-2013, he continued.
Upon completion, the facilities will support more goods transport, communication between the two neighbouring provinces of Sayaboury and Luang Prabang, which will have a positive effect on the economic growth.
Source: KPL Lao News Agency
July 07, 2010
July 8th, 2010, 12:34 PM
Sikhay-Tardthong road built by 60 per cent
(KPL) The improvement of a road stretch between Sikhay intersection and Tardthong junction has been completed by 60 per cent.
The basic infrastructure development is a priority of basic infrastructure development of Vientiane Capital for 2005-2010 period.
The road stretch, which is four km long, is being developed to a four-lane surface. Drainage and street lights are being constructed and installed along the road stretch. The project costs USD 7.2 million.
Project Manager, Mr. Soudchay Douangdala, said last week that the construction of the reinforced concrete road would link together the villages of Sikhay, Sibounheuang Tha, Sibounheuang Thong, Sisomsuen, Kaoliao, Danekham, Nonekeo and Tardthong. The construction began in May 2009.
“We expect that the construction will be completed by the end of this year ahead of the celebration of the 450th anniversary of Vientiane as the national capital city, which will be taking place in mid November this year.”
Source: KPL Lao News Agency
July 07, 2010
July 10th, 2010, 05:58 PM
Preparation for Vientiane’s 450th anniversary celebration in full swing
(KPL) Vientiane Capital is on track in approaching the celebration of Vientiane’s 450th anniversary, said Mr Sombath Yialiheu, Vientiane Mayor at a meeting of the Propaganda and Training Board of the Party Central Committee on 7 July.
The celebration of Vientiane’s 450th anniversary will be held from 15 to 21 November.
Attending the meeting were Mr. Phandouangchith Vongsa, Head of the Propaganda and Training Board of the Party Central Committee, Party members, 300 representatives from ministries, Vientiane Capital, Borikhamsay, Khammouane and Vientiane provinces.
The objective of the meeting under the theme “approaching the celebration of Vientiane’s 450th anniversary” was designed to prepare and create an awareness campaign to officials and people at all levels nationwide on the importance of the celebration including history of Vientiane, ancestor’s victory and the heroic fight for independence.
At the meeting, Mayor Sombath has also highlighted four main objectives of the celebration including the ancient era of Vientiane town dating back before 1560 till today (1560-2010), the vision in development of Vientiane Capital till 2030, and 2011-2015 development plan.
The celebration ceremony of Vientiane’s 450th anniversary has heeded to the advice and leadership of Party and Government, and Vientiane Capital.
In order to welcome the upcoming celebration of Vientiane’s 450th anniversary, Vientiane Capital has approved 21 infrastructure development projects which are going on in full swing. Some of them have been completed.
Source: KPL Lao News Agency
July 09, 2010
July 10th, 2010, 05:58 PM
Laos grants 156 ha to Japanese company for medicinal plant cultivation
(KPL) The government of the Lao PDR recently granted a 30-year concession of 156 hectares of land in Lao-ngam district of Saravane province to the Tsumara Co., Ltd. of Japan for the plantation of medicinal plants.
A signing ceremony of an agreement on land concession between the National Land Management Authority and the Lao Tsumura Co., LTD was held in Vientiane on 6 June between Mr. Akhom Tounalom, Deputy Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office who is also deputy head of the National Land Management Authority and a representative of the Lao Tsumura Co., Ltd.
The concessionary fee will be computed in line with the President Decree no. 02 dated 18 November, 2009 in which the company will pay US$ 15 per hectare per year and one more dollar will be added on every five years.
Source: KPL Lao News Agency
July 09, 2010
opps close the site before sitngs
July 10th, 2010, 05:59 PM
Laos facing quality issues with solar PV components
Laos is facing component quality issues with its small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems installed three years ago to about 2,000 rural households.
While the solar panels have still been working fine, the control boxes and batteries have not been functioning properly, says Hatsady Sisoulath, deputy director general at the department of electricity with the ministry of energy and mines.
“The quality is very bad. The people are complaining,” Sisoulath tells Recharge.
He says that the solar systems were acquired from China and the stated quality of the product was in accordance to specifications, which are meant to give a lifespan of about 20 years.
Sisoulath declines to name the Chinese manufacturers.
The rural solar project was launched in 2007 with funding aids from the World Bank, allowing the Laotian government to subsidise half of the installation cost while the households will bear the remaining half.
Each solar PV system is capable of producing 20-50 watt peak (Wp) of electricity under full sunlight condition, and costs about $300 to install.
The Laotian government aims to equip another 10,000 rural households with the solar PV systems and to achieve 500MW of solar power capacity by the end of this year.
The solar PV systems will still be sourced from China due to its price competitiveness, according to Sisoulath.
By 2020, it hopes to install solar PV systems to 100,000 rural households.
Neighbouring Cambodia, which has a similar rural solar household programme aided by the World Bank, only managed to install the system for about 1,000 houses.
July 10th, 2010, 06:16 PM
Phu Cua int’l cross border check-point inaugurated
Vietnam’s Central Highland province of Kon Tum on July 9 held an inauguration ceremony for a cross-border check-point at the Phu Cua International Border Gate of Laos.
The Phu Cua International Border Gate has been built since 2009 at a cost of over VND29.5 billion funded by the Vietnamese government to Laos as a non-refundable aid.
The work will contribute to strengthening the traditional friendship and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries, as well as promoting the development of economy, trade, tourism and services between Kon Tum and Attapeu provinces of Laos, and among provinces in the development triangle of Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia.
Earlier, the Bo Y-Phu Cua border gate was upgraded into international border gate on January 18, 2008.
July 19th, 2010, 09:24 AM
Laos hydroelectric dam easing poverty
WASHINGTON, July 16 (UPI) -- Revenue from a hydroelectric dam in Laos is making its way to the development of social and federal programs in the country, international groups say.
The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank announced in a joint report that the first $600,000 generated from the Nam Theun 2 plant in Laos is funding education, health, rural roads, electricity and environmental programs in the country.
The joint report said Laos over a 25-year period can expect to generate $2 billion from the project.
"With close to three quarters of the population of Laos still living on less than $2 a day, the money generated by NT2 is providing a significant boost to the country's economy and helping improve people's lives," said John Roome, a World Bank director for the region.
Financial backers of the $1.5 billion project expressed concern over the environmental impact of the project, one of the largest hydroelectric dams in the region.
Apart from an increase in per-capita income, the joint report said the environmental impact from the project was anticipated and appropriate mitigation efforts are in place.
The power station will supply 95 percent of its electricity to the grids in Thailand and the remaining 5 percent to Laos. The 5 percent is enough to meet 20 percent of the annual energy demand in Laos.http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Resource-Wars/2010/07/16/Laos-hydroelectric-dam-easing-poverty/UPI-57281279293347/
August 2nd, 2010, 07:57 AM
Lao stock market to trade in kip only
The government will allow Lao kip only to be used for trading on the forthcoming Lao stock exchange amid widespread use of foreign currencies in the country.
The headquarters for Laos' first stock market are currently under construction.
Currently transactions by traders and businesses across the country are frequently made in foreign currencies, despite recent efforts by the Bank of the Lao PDR to promote wider use of the kip by quoting prices in the national currency.
The bank’s governor, Mr Phouphet Khamphounvong, told the Vientiane Times on Wednesday that the kip will be used for buying and selling shares on the stock market.
The use of the national currency is in line with the government’s policy to promote the use of the kip. The Lao currency has been strengthening against the US dollar and Thai baht since devaluing dramatically in 1997 during the Asian financial crisis.
In January 2006 there was 10,772 kip to the US dollar and 264 kip to the Thai baht, but now US$1 is worth 8,224 kip and 1 baht is worth 255 kip, according to the exchange rates of the Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao (BCEL).
Mr Phouphet, who is also Vice President of the Lao Security Exchange, said that if foreign investors bring in the capital to buy shares they will have to change their money into kip.
The establishment of the first stock market in Laos is a joint venture between the Lao government and Korea Stock Exchange (KRX).
Mr Phouphet said that the joint venture company will open on October 10, 2010, but the stock market will open for transactions in January 2011.
An official from the Security Market Establishment Committee confirmed that the use of kip for trading stocks should not pose any problems, but if more foreign currency flows into the country it will make the kip stronger, which will cause problems for the export sector.
However, President of the Security Market Establishment Committee, Mr Dethphouvang Moularat warned: “We should be careful about withdrawing more foreign currencies out of the country in case investors sell off all their stock due to falling share prices, as a result of a stock market crisis.”
The country needs to have enough foreign reserves to bail itself out if there is a massive fall in share prices. Currently the foreign reserve is enough to cover imports for six months.
However, the committee will undertake some measures to manage fluctuations on the stock market by issuing some legal documents, according to Mr Dethphouvang.
Electricite du Laos and Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao will be the first state enterprises to be listed on the stock market.
The central bank, on behalf of the government, reached a joint venture agreement with KRX on the stock market’s establishment in July 2009 in Luang Prabang. The government has a 51 percent share and the other 49 percent belongs to the KRX.
Located on Kamphaeng-Meuang road, Setthathirath district, Vientiane the stock market’s headquarters is currently under construction, and is 60 percent complete.
The Lao Stock Market is expected to provide multiple benefits to the national economy and boost production in the country.
Source: Vientiane Times
July 27, 2010
August 2nd, 2010, 07:59 AM
Construction of third Lao-Thai bridge on track
Recent rainfalls have not disrupted construction of the third Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge because the most important part of the structure has already been completed, said the project’s coordinator.
Mr Xaysana Fasavath said on Wednesday that the bridge links the central Lao province of Khammuan to Nakhon Phanom province in Thailand and construction is running smoothly despite the onset of the wet season.
“We are working as normal and the project is now 50 complete, which is 13 percent ahead of schedule. An immigration building is now mostly complete, with just the roof remaining to be constructed,” he said.
“We are now also working on the superstructure of the bridge and welding, which we will suspend to work on paving if rain occurs.”
Workers are also preparing to lay concrete if the skies stay clear for a few days, he said.
Mr Xaysana said concrete has already been laid from the edge of the bridge to the immigration building and a further 500 metres of road will be paved to connect the bridge to Road No 13 South.
The Thai side is currently constructing its immigration facilities, he said.
The bridge is scheduled for completion in November 2011, after work began in May 2009.
A groundbreaking ceremony took place in March 2009 on both sides of the river. The ceremony was led by Lao Vice President Bounnhang Vorachit and Her Royal Highness Princess Mahachakri Sirindhorn of Thailand.
Thailand has invested more than 1.7 billion baht in the construction of the bridge.
In Laos, the bridge is located near Veuntai village in Thakhek district, 13km from the district centre. In Thailand, the bridge is set in Nakhon Phanom district’s Hom village.
The bridge will be built with pre-stressed concrete box girders 13m in width. There will be two lanes for traffic, each 3.5m wide, and two footpaths, each 1m wide. It will be built in the same style as the Lao-Thai Mekong Friendship Bridge linking Vientiane with Nong Khai province, Thailand.
The first Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge over the Mekong, linking Vientiane and Nong Khai, opened in 1994. The second Mekong bridge, linking Savannakhet province in Laos and Mukdahan province in Thailand, opened in 2007.
Source: Vientiane Times
By Panyasith Thammavongsa
July 31, 2010
August 3rd, 2010, 09:11 AM
Laos, Burma links approved
Bangkokpost Published: 3/08/2010 at 12:00 AM
The Thai government approved infrastructure investment projects yesterday in Laos and Burma worth a combined 4.2 billion baht.
The first project is the two-lane R11 Lao road construction linking Baan Thad Thong of Nong Khai province with Baan Namsang of Saengthong city in Laos covering 56 kilometres. This project is valued 1.39 billion baht with construction from 2011-2014.
Tharadol Piempongsan, deputy secretary to Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, said the road will be built along the Khong River in Laos to enhance tourism between the countries.
The second project is an extension of 7.5 km of railway from Tha Nalaeng in Laos to Vientiane worth 1.65 billion baht. Rail already links Thailand's Nong Khai province with Tha Nalaeng. The extension is planned for construction from 2011 to 2014. This project will benefit tourism and transportation between the two countries.
Mr Tharadol said the Thai government will grant 30% of the amount required for these projects with the remainder allocated through soft loans carrying an annual lending rate of 1.5% for 30 years.
In a related development, a committee to develop economic co-operation in neighbouring countries chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Trairong Suwankhiri agreed yesterday to grant 1.16 billion baht to improve the existing 18-km road from Myawaddy-Tanintharyi and build a new 28.6-km road from Tanintharyi to Kaukarek district in Pa-an, the capital of Kayin State. These projects will take place from 2011-2013.
Mr Tharadol said the project will boost border trade between Thailand and Burma, particularly through the Mae Sot border checkpoint that generated trade of 25 billion baht last year.
from thai forum posted by napoleon
August 7th, 2010, 09:54 AM
The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) has approved a request by Fudian Bank, a commercial bank based in southwest China's Yunnan Province, to establish a representative office in Laos, making the bank the first local commercial bank to set up business outside China, China News Service reported Thursday.
Fudian Bank has played an important role in past financial dealings between China's southwestern regions and Southeast Asia. It also plans to serve as an agency to provide financial services for banks of neighboring Greater Mekong Subregions (GMS) such as Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Its establishment in Laos has landmark significance for building Yunnan into a bridgehead for China to open southwest, the report said.
The former Fudian Bank was founded in 1911. It once had the task of issuing currency, implementing monetary policy and controlling foreign exchange on behalf of the government of Yunnan. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, it was taken over by the People's Bank of China. In 2007, it was re-founded and became the first provincial-level joint-stock commercial bank of Yunnan.
August 21st, 2010, 11:12 AM
Aug 16, 2010
$1.2b power plant in Laos
SEOUL - A CONSORTIUM of South Korean and Thai firms signed an agreement on Monday to build a US$900 million (S$1.2 billion) hydroelectric power plant in Laos, company officials said.
The consortium involves Thai power supplier Ratchaburi Electricity Generating Holding and two South Korean firms, SK Construction and Korea Western Power.
SK Construction said a memorandum of understanding was signed between the consortium and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), which will sell electricity from the plant across Thailand.
The plant, capable of generating up to 390 megawatts, will be located at Senamnoi, in southern Laos.
SK Construction is responsible for financing and building the plant, while Korea Western Power will maintain it.
Construction will begin in 2013, an SK Construction spokesman said, adding the consortium would operate the plant for 27 years. 'We hope the new project will help create new jobs and eventually expand much-needed energy infrastructure in Laos,' he said. -- AFP
August 24th, 2010, 12:16 PM
Malaysian firm to build dam on Mekong tributary
Vientiane, Laos - A Malaysian firm has been granted permission to build a 130-megawatt dam in north-western Laos on a tributary of the Mekong River, state media reports said Monday.
Malaysia's Asia Pacific Business Lin Snd Bhd Co Ltd (AP Bizlink) last week signed an agreement with Laos' Ministry of Planning and Investment to construct the dam in Luang Namtha and Bokeo provinces over the next four years, the Vientiane Times reported.
The 145-metre-tall dam would create a 2,825-square-kilometre catchment area on the Nam Pha River, a tributary of the Mekong, South-East Asia's longest waterway, which passes through southern China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
AP Bizlink chairman Zakaria bin Dato Ahmad said the project would contribute to meeting the electricity demands of northern Laos and attract foreign investment to the area.
No details were provided on the cost of the dam nor the Malaysian firm's plans for conducting a social-environmental impact study on the project area or on the Mekong.
China has already built four large hydroelectric dams on the upper Mekong, but none have yet been built on the South-East Asian segments of the river.
The Mekong River Commission - of which Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam are members - has warned that all dams on the middle and lower Mekong River would have an adverse impact on fisheries, which provide an estimated 2 billion dollars each year in revenues for people living off the river.
'Current fish passage technology would not be effective in maintaining the migration of the large number and diverse fish species found in the Mekong,' the commission concluded in a study conducted by a group of scientists in 2008.
'In view of this conclusion and the assessment of the value of the Mekong's fisheries, the group concluded that dams on the mainstream in the middle and lower part of the Mekong will have a major impact on the fisheries and serious economic and social implications,' the commission warned.
Less research has been done on the impact of dams on tributaries of the Mekong. Communist Laos, which has said it aspires to be the 'battery of South-East Asia,' plans to build about 20 hydropower plants on its rivers by 2020.
A mountainous country rich in water resources, Laos currently has 14 hydropower plants with a combined capacity of 2,540 megawatts, much of which is exported to neighbouring Thailand.
August 26th, 2010, 09:18 AM
Lao-Viet trade continues to prosper
The value of bilateral trade between Laos and Vietnam has seen a major increase this fiscal year thanks to closer economic cooperation between the two nations.
According to a report from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, two-way trade value between the neighbouring countries reached about US$450 million over the past six months of the 2009-10 fiscal year thanks to tightened economic and trade cooperation.
The Lao and Vietnamese governments plan to reach bilateral trade value of about US$1 billion this year and US$2 billion by 2015 as part of efforts to implement comprehensive cooperation policies.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Ms Khemmani Pholsena held talks with her Vietnamese counterpart Mr Nguyen Thanh Bien in Vientiane in June, aiming to boost trade cooperation between the two nations and ensure targets are met. The two governments plan to boost the value of their bilateral trade by continuing to impose the current preferential import-export taxes for 2011.
The two countries will collaborate to organise trade fairs in several northern and southern Lao provinces and study the possibility of signing a free trade area agreement, hoping to provide more opportunities for Lao and Vietnamese businesses and traders.
The two governments are also working together to develop plans for a Vietnam-Laos border market network, a scheme aimed at providing greater opportunities for people living in shared border areas to exchange goods and run joint venture businesses.
At present, Laos mainly imports petroleum, steel and iron, apparel and footwear from Vietnam, while exporting agricultural products, mining commodities and timber to Vietnam.
According to a report from the Department of Import and Export, Laos exported about US$152 million worth of goods to Vietnam in the 2008-09 fiscal year, while importing about US$139 million worth of goods from Vietnam.
Economists believe the rising level of Vietnamese investment in Laos will further boost bilateral trade between the two nations in the coming years.
Vietnamese investments in Laos have been increasing over the past few years, particularly in industrial tree plantations, hydropower plants, hotels and the mining sector.
According to a report from the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the value of Vietnamese investment in Laos between 2000 and 2009 was about US$2 billion, making the nation the third largest foreign investor in Laos after Thailand and China. Vietnamese investment value in 2010 has reached about US$49 million.
Vietnamese businesspeople have urged the Lao government to improve investment services after experiencing slow approval for proposed investment projects. They also want the government to provide them with clearer information relating to investment policies and market conditions in the country. To promote comprehenship cooperation the leaders of the two countries have regularly visited each other and today the President of Vietnam Mr Nguyen Minh Triet commenced an official visit to Laos.
Source: Vientiane Times
August 24, 2010
August 26th, 2010, 09:19 AM
Lao garment manufacturers benefit from rising Chinese labour costs
The Lao garment industry is receiving more orders from international trading companies as the cost of Chinese labour continues to rise, according to officials from the Lao Garment Industry Association.
Chinese labour costs in the garment industry have reportedly increased by 30 percent, causing international trading firms to order their merchandise from countries with lower production costs such as Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
“Although there has not been any new investment in the Lao garment industry this year we are beginning to receive more orders as a result of the rising labour costs in neighbouring countries,” said one association official, adding that orders have risen by 15 percent over the past few months.
The President of the Lao Garment Industry Association, Mr Onesy Boutsivongsakd, confirmed yesterday that customers of Chinese garment manufacturers had started to order more products from Laos in the face of rising costs in China.
Yet with a shortage of labour in the Lao garment industry, coping with this sharp rise in business could become a major challenge, he said
“We will need about 6,000 additional workers to increase output,” he said, pointing out that many people do not actually want to work in the factories due to rising inflation.
He said that the Lao garment firms would not be able to increase pay for workers as this would in turn push up product prices and put the Lao garment industry at a disadvantage on the international stage.
Mr Onesy said that wages for Lao workers were already high compared with those in Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh, and for this reason industry employers would not be able to offer a pay rise.
He has urged the government to address rising inflation, one of the main issues preventing Lao people from working in the garment industry, which would offer them a wage of around 560,000 kip (US$70) per month.
“Despite the growing value of the kip against the US dollar and Thai baht, the price of rice and other foods has risen steeply,” he said
Trade officials say that it is hard for authorities to control the price of food as most is imported, and thus one of the best ways to drive down prices would be to encourage domestic production.
According to a report from the association, Laos’ export value of clothes over the past six months was US$78 million – a 1 percent drop on the same period of last year.
There are around 100 garment factories currently operating in Laos, employing more than 20,000 workers nationwide. The sector is a principal generator of employment for the people of Laos.
Source: Vientiane Times
August 24, 2010
August 29th, 2010, 07:37 AM
Laos to Construct 20 Hydro Plants by 2020
Vientiane, Laos Electricity sector leaders in Laos have said the country will build at least two hydropower plants every year until 2020, according to wire reports from the region.
To date, the country has a total of 14 hydroelectric power plants, with a combined capacity of 2,540 MW, wire reports indicate.
Recently, Viet-Laos Power Joint Stock Company and Laos Electricity Corporation struck a deal to establish Xekaman 1 Electricity Co. Ltd.
The agreement is designed to accelerate the Xekaman 1 hydroelectric power project, an important investment project between Vietnam and Laos.
The 322-MW Xekaman 1 project is being built at a cost of US$441 million on the Xekaman River in the Attopu Province of Laos.
In other news, the Nam Theun 2 hydropower project in Laos recently began commercial export of 1,000 MW of electricity to Thailand. The $1.45 billion project is co-owned by Electricite de France, the Lao government, the Electricity Generating Public Co. of Thailand and Italian-Thai Development.
August 31st, 2010, 10:43 AM
China’s CWE builds Nam Ngieb tributary dam
(KPL) The China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE) – a Chinese dam builder, would be building a 180-megawatt hydropower plant, Nam Ngieb 2, in Phonsavanh district, Xiengkhouang province.
The construction work would commence at the end of this year and is scheduled for completion in 2015.
Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Mr. Thongmy Phomvisay, and Vice Chairman of the CWE, Mr. Wang Yu, signed the project agreement in Vientiane on 25 August.
CWE is no newcomer to the hydropower building business in Laos as it has a track record of having built three hydropower plants, 60 megawatts Nam Leuk in 1996-2000, 40 megawatts Nam Mang 3 in 2002-2005 and 100 megawatts Nam Lik 1 and 2.
Source: KPL Lao News Agency
August 30, 2010
September 2nd, 2010, 10:54 AM
Vietnam helps to develop new urban area in Laos
The Ha Do Group in Vietnam will invest US$250 million to help develop a new urban area in the Chanthabouly district of Vientiane, the capital city of Laos.
The project was signed by the Director of Vientiane’s Department of Planning and Investment, Visay Savanna and the Chairman of the Ha Do Group, Nguyen Trong Thong, in the witness of Vientiane’s Mayor Sombath Yialiher and Vietnamese Ambassador to Laos Ta Minh Chau.
Under the project, the Ha Do Group will help improve the local infrastructure, build houses and protect the environment in the urban area.
Addressing the signing ceremony, Sombath Yialiher said that the project is one of 13 being carried out in Vientiane to celebrate the capital city’s 450th anniversary.
The Ha Do Group will modernize the area, which will help with Vientiane’s socio-economic and housing development, create higher incomes and generate more jobs for local people, said Thong.
September 6th, 2010, 01:12 PM
Laos on the Economic Radar Screen
Laos looks to be the next Southeast Asian to start experiencing rapid economic growth. Its 2009 GDP growth rate was tops in the region, at 6.4 percent according to the World Bank (or 7.6 percent according to the
Laos (which is actually pronounced "Lao"--it's a semi-long story) has been experiencing an average of 7-percent growth for the past five years, and is expected to continue on this pace in 2010. The country mines copper and gold (the two minerals are often found in the same places), and sells a lot of it to China. Its tourism sector is also strong.
What intrigues me is its growth as a producer of hydroelectric power. Investors from adjoining Thailand have in mind to create 8,000 megawatts of power. Agreements have already been signed to export this juice to Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
About 1,000 megawatts of that just went online today, as generators at the Nam Theun 2 dam began cranking. Laos has designs on becoming the so-called "Battery of Asia" with its hydroelectric potential.
Could there be server farms in the future of Laos?
The Nam Theun 2 dam was built at a cost of almost $1.5 billion US. Meanwhile, the Russians are coming, too, investing in a series of four dams that will generate 1,200 megawatts by 2013 at a planned construction cost of $1.7 billion.
Compare these numbers to the GDP of the entire country of about $5.4 billion and you get an idea of the ambitions of the investors, not only from Thailand but also Vietnam and China.
Despite the economic progress of the last five years, Laos remains in the bottom third of GDP per capita, at a little more than $2,000 per year in local buying power. This is only 60% of the Philippines, for example, which is hardly a wealthy country.
But with a population of less than 7 million, Laos does not face the crushing pressures that face many Southeast Asian countries. Perhaps it can become a sort-of Canada of Southeast Asia--a low population sustained by abundant natural resources and beauty--without those pesky nine months of winter.
September 7th, 2010, 08:41 AM
Laos-China trade reaches new high
Trade between Laos and China amounted to US$566 million in the last six months, a 59.3 percent year-on-year rise, thanks to the establishment of the Asean-China Free Trade Area (FTA).
The growth of trade between China and Laos was higher than the 54.7 percent average increase in trade between China and all Asean countries, according to Chinese customs statistics qouted in a report issued by the Chinese Embassy to Laos.
Exports from Laos to China were valued at US$284 million, a 55.6 percent increase, while imports from China to Laos were worth US$283 million, a 63.2 percent rise.
Laos' major exports to China are mineral resources, furniture, agricultural products and handicrafts, while the main goods imported from China to Laos are electrical equipment, construction materials, power, automobile accessories and commodities.
During the global financial crisis, China and Southeast Asia pressed on with developing their free-trade area with great success.
Sino-Lao trade increased against the wind. According to an Asia Bank survey, Laos' import and export trade volume was US$3.38 billion in 2009, a drop of 10.08 percent compared to the previous year.
However, Sino-Lao trade increased in spite of these conditions. According to statistics from China, Sino-Lao trade in 2009 reached US$744 million, a 77 percent increase from the previous year. Among all East Asian countries, Sino-Laos trade grew the most.
Since the Asean-China FTA was established on January 1, 2001, average tariff rates from China to Asean have decreased from 9.8 percent to 0.1 percent, with a zero tariff being imposed on more than 90 percent of Asean products, according to the Chinese Embassy to Laos.
At the same time, the average tariff from Asean to China has decreased from 12.8 percent to 0.6 percent, with the six older member countries (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) imposing a zero tariff on more than 90 percent of Chinese products. The four newer Asean member countries (Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar) will achieve this target by 2015, but currently benefit from the unilateral zero tariff from China.
For the six months just gone, Lao investment in China was worth US$8.93 million, a 267.5 percent year-on-year rise; and non-finance investment in Laos from China was worth US$140 million, a 136.5 percent increase on last year, according to a report from the Chinese embassy.
By the end of June 20l0, cumulative direct investment in China from Laos had reached US$37.09 million, and non-finance investment in Laos from China had reached a cumulative figure of US$628 million.
The report quoted statistics from the Ministry of Planning and Investment saying, in the first half of the year, Chinese enterprises have invested in 16 projects in Laos to the tune of US$340 million, replacing Thailand for the first time as Laos' biggest foreign investor.
Since the foundation of the Asean-China FTA in 2001, the improvement of convenient leverage has been the most significant factor in the rapid progress of Chinese investment in Laos.
So far, 18 Chinese-funded hydroelectric development projects have been permitted in Laos, with gross installed capacity up to 5.3 million kilowatts. Chinese companies have also carried out projects in mining and other sectors.
Chinese enterprises have been granted approval for tens of thousands of hectares of processing space for agricultural and forestry activities, such as rubber, rice, sugarcane cassava and paper production.
It is believed that increasing Chinese investment in such areas will provide more employment in Laos, speed up social and economic development and increase exports.
September 9th, 2010, 11:52 AM
Lao-Vietnamese trade hits 1.7 trillion kip
(KPL) The two-way trade between Laos and Vietnam in the first six months of this year amounts to over 1.7 trillion kip (USD$ 212 million), up by 8 per cent year on year.
Laos’s export to Vietnam in the first half of this year is valued at 992 billion kip (USD$121 million), a rise of 10% over last year’s same period and import is 746 billion kip, also up by 5.8%.
Vietnamese investors have invested in 219 projects in Laos with a total investment of 19,786 billion kip (USD$ 2.4 billion). From October 2009 to May this year, 12 projects of 1,394 billion kip (US$170 million) by Vietnamese investors have been approved by the Lao government.
Seven of these projects, worth 902 billion kip (USD$110 million), are direct investment by Vietnamese companies.
Source: KPL Lao News Agency
September 08, 2010
September 9th, 2010, 11:54 AM
Road links two northern provinces to open next mid-year
(KPL) The construction of a 78-km long stretch of Road No 13 north from Nateui, Luang Namtha province, to Oudomsay province will be over and open for public use by June 2011.
Deputy Head of Road No 13 North Construction Project, Mr. Phonephadith Phommachith said, “The construction work is now completed by 61 per cent, which surpasses 0.7 per cent of the target. The road construction work started in June 2009.”
The spending on the construction is donated by the Chinese Government amounting to 273 million Yuan or equivalent to 300 billion kip.
If this road completes, it will facilitate the transportation between two northern provinces of Luang Namtha and Oudomsay.
Source: KPL Lao New Agency
September 08, 2010
September 23rd, 2010, 01:23 PM
Govt to boost scrutiny of foreign investors
The government will research the background of foreign companies wishing to invest in concession projects in Laos to ensure the effectiveness of such projects, according to a senior official from the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
“A necessary step, for the short and long term, is to select the best companies to invest in concession projects,” Dr Kikeo Chanthaboury said last week in response to public concerns over delays in concession investment projects.
He was speaking at a press conference in Vientiane on Thursday amid concerns that many foreign companies have signed memorandums of understanding with the government to proceed with concession projects but have been unable to secure funds to develop the projects as proposed.
The government hopes more thorough background checks of companies proposing to invest in Laos will address the issue.
To select the best companies to develop concession projects, Dr Kikeo said the government would cooperate with Lao embassies to check on the background and financial viability of investors before granting them permission to undertake a project.
However, he said one of the major concerns was that the investigation of investors would take some time, which would slow the process for granting approval.
Dr Kikeo said that another measure the government will introduce is to carefully study the proposed business plans of foreign companies and the proposed concession agreement.
“The agreement must set out exact dates for implementation of the plan and commencement of the project,” he said, adding this would make it easier for government officials to evaluate the progress of projects.
He also said the involved sectors need to work harder to help investors to implement co ncession projects.
Dr Kikeo said one major problem that officials face when monitoring the implementation of projects is that investors are often unable to complete their proposed investment plan on time.
He said officials are unable to revoke the right of a company to proceed with a concession project because they have already spent money on the venture.
Some investors have told the government they would require compensation if they were told to stop an ongoing project, he said.
Dr Kikeo said the government must tread carefully in regards to cancelling concession agreements because foreign companies might take the case to an international court of justice, which would be very costly for the government.
He said the best way to ensure that concession projects run smoothly is for government officials to fulfil their roles in facilitating investors and ensure that investors discharge their commitments.
It is far more beneficial for the government and the nation if investors fully implement their plans and successfully complete their project, he said.
September 25th, 2010, 05:11 AM
Luang Prabang set to cross the river
Luang Prabang provincial authorities plan to expand the town across the Mekong River to Chomphet district, where a train station will be built to link with Vientiane and the Laos-China border.
Newly-elected Secretary of Luang Prabang province's Party Committee, Dr Khampheng Xaysompheng, unveiled the plan yesterday, saying expansion of the town is part of developments envisaged for the province during his five years of office.
As the top provincial Party leader, Dr Khampheng along with other leaders believes building a bridge across the Mekong will facilitate economic growth and the passage of vehicles and people as part of the town's expansion.
“Three companies have submitted proposals for building a bridge - a Chinese company, Korean company and a China-Canada-Thailand joint venture. We are in the process of considering their proposals,” he said.
A new international airport is also under construction in Luang Prabang, set for completion in 2013. Dr Khampheng said this project is one of the most important aspects in attracting tourists to the World Heritage town.
Chomphet district could be an important hotspot for development once a railway is in place because local people can use it for personal travel or to transport goods for sale in larger markets.
Dr Khampheng said it was important to train people to work on the various development projects and create better understanding about the development strategy.
“We will reform the governance structure by promoting younger people to important positions to facilitate development,” he said.
“In the next two years, several three and four star hotels will be built in response to the rising number of tourists.”
Dr Khampheng said the province would preserve the traditional culture of local people for tourism purposes and ensure development did not affect local lifestyles.
He said agricultural production in Luang Prabang was quite active but there were insufficient factories to process these crops.
“Processing plants are important for our province. I believe we will see more new products made here during my term of office,” he said.
Dr Khampheng said he will ensure economic growth of 9 percent per year over the five-year period, with annual per capita income of between US$1,400 and US$1,500. Currently, per capita income stands at US$821.
He said the province will continue to create favourable conditions for businesspeople to invest in tourism facilities such as restaurants, hotels and resorts.
The number of foreign visitors to Luang Prabang reached about 245,000 people in 2009, a more than 5 percent increase from the previous year.
September 25th, 2010, 06:15 AM
Developers set sights abroad
HCM CITY — Property developers are eyeing investment abroad, including in the US.
The Thu Duc Housing Development Joint Stock Co has picked up a 50 per cent stake for US$6 million in a joint venture with two local companies, California Newland Ventures LLC and Nature Coast Horries of Central Florida LLC, that will build houses in California, Mississippi, and other states over the next 20 years.
Much money has also been flowing into the Laos property market. Long Thanh Ltd Co has invested $1 billion, the largest amount by a foreign investor in that country.
It will build a golf course, a five-star hotel, villas, a shopping mall, a hospital, and a school in a 557ha area in the capital, Vientiane.
Sai Gon Investment Corporation began construction of the Lao Hung hotel in Sam Nua District, Hua Phan Province, in July. It is the province's first international standard hotel.
Last month Ha Do Corporation signed a contract with the Vientiane People's Committee for building the Noong Tha new residential area in Chanthabuly District at a cost of $250 million.
Work will begin in November.
Simultaneously, demand for foreign houses has been rising in Viet Nam, mostly among businesspeople with interests abroad, families who have children studying abroad, and even investors looking for new assets.
Lien Minh Nguyen Joint Stock Co, which is marketing the Sai Gon Village housing project in California for the developer, the US-based Bridgecreek Group announced the sale of 150 apartments that were completed in the second quarter.
John Nhat Nguyen, the company's executive director, said it will offer advice to families and companies hoping to buy property in the US. — VNS
September 29th, 2010, 05:55 AM
ADB raises Lao GDP growth forecast
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has raised the Lao GDP growth rate forecast from 7 percent in April to 7.4 percent now, and is forecasting 7.5 percent growth next year.
The Asian development outlook update was reported yesterday in the ADB Vientiane office by Deputy Country Director Barend Frielink.
The report was also published at the same time in Hong Kong and other ADB member countries.
In conjunction with the release of the report, Mr Frielink and ADB Lao Resident Mission Country Director Chong Chi Nai addressed questions put by Lao media representatives.
Mr Chong Chi Nai said “Laos' economy is performing very well in the Southeast Asian regional context. The measures taken in 2008 and 2009, including the stimulus package, appear to have paid off, and the economy is well positioned for further growth.”
The report stated that the industry sector, particularly minerals and hydropower generation, has continued to expand, and export orders for garments rose by about 15 percent year on year in the second quarter of 2010.
Economic growth is further supported by modest increases in tourist arrivals. However, drought delayed planting of rice, which could dent growth in agriculture this year.
The start this year of significant electricity exports from the large Nam Theun 2 hydropower project and rising global prices for exports of copper, gold, and silver have improved the current account position.
Exports of electricity and minerals are set to increase next year with the commissioning of more hydropower project and expansion of two mines scheduled for completion by the end of 2010.
The overall balance of payments will remain positive over the forecast period, supported by inflows of foreign direct investment.
On the downside, inflation has been higher than expected, accelerating to 6.8 percent year on year in July. The main factors were higher food and fuel prices, with the drought hurting food production and prices.
Inflation is now projected to average 6 percent in 2010, quickening to 6.5 in 2011.
At the same time, ADB also lifted the forecast growth in the region.
The report forecasts regional growth at 8.2 percent in 2010, well above the 5.4 percent recorded in 2009 and also above ADB's earlier forecast of 7.5 in April.
However, the World Bank recently forecast that Lao economic growth will reach 7.7 percent this year and the average growth of East Asia is projected to stay at 8.6 percent in 2010.
Asian Development Outlook and Asian Development Outlook Update are ADB's flagship economic reports analysing the economic conditions and prospects in Asia and the Pacific and are issued in April and September, respectively.
ABD, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration.
Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2009, it approved a total of US$16.1 billion in financing operations through loans, grants, guarantees, a trade finance facilitation programme, equity investments, and technical assistance projects. ADB also mobilised cofinancing amounting to US$3.2 billion.
By Times Reportors
(Latest Update September 29, 2010
October 1st, 2010, 02:04 PM
FIRST LAOTIAN FIRM TO DEBUT ON SEOUL BOURSE
SEOUL, Oct 1 (NNN-BERNAMA) -- A Laotian company will list its shares on the
South Korean bourse, becoming the first company based in the Southeast Asian
country to go public here, Yonhap News Agency reported the bourse operator as
Kolao Holdings, a Laotian holding company headquartered on the Cayman
Islands, has been given preliminary approval to list its entire 38 million
shares on the main board, the Korea Exchange (KRX) said in a statement.
The date of Kolao Holdings' stock market debut has yet to be determined. The
company is owned by a Korean-Laotian and its flagship is Laotian auto vehicle
seller Kolao Developing Co, according to the KRX.
Kolao Holdings is seeking to raise up to 52.4 billion won (US$46.1 million)
in its planned initial public offering (IPO) later this month, in which the firm
will sell about 11 million shares to the public, the bourse operator said.
If listed, the firm, which posted 4.1 billion won in net earnings in the
first quarter of this year, will become the first Laotian firm publicly traded
on the local bourse, it said.
A total of 16 foreign companies -- 14 Chinese, one US and one Japanese --
are currently listed on South Korea's main and secondary stock markets.
A Chinese firm went public here as the first overseas entity in 2007.
The KRX said it also gave preliminary approval to Daegu City Gas Co, a
regional natural gas provider, to be listed on the main bourse.
Daegu City Gas plans to list 27.5 million shares after raising 26.25 billion
won in its IPO in November by selling 7.5 million shares, it said. http://namnewsnetwork.org/v2/read.php?id=134944
October 6th, 2010, 11:04 AM
Laos, China to cooperate in railway construction
A top Chinese railway official arrived in Vientiane yesterday for talks with Lao officials on the construction of a railway from the Chinese border to Vientiane.
The railway development project is part of the Kunming-Singapore rail link, which aims to boost trade relations between Asean countries and China after the two parties implemented the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement earlier this year.
Minister for Railways of the People’s Republic of China, Mr Liu Zhijun, paid a courtesy visit to President Choummaly Sayasone and Standing Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad upon his arrival in Laos.
He also held talks and signed a memorandum of understanding with his Lao counterpart, Minister of Public Works and Transport Sommath Pholsena, on cooperation in the construction of the railway from the Lao-Chinese border in Luang Namtha province to Vientiane.
Mr Zhijun and his delegation also visited the Training Centre of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Thanalaeng train station, Vientiane-Nong Khai Friendship Bridge and the That Luang stupa.
Lao officials involved in the project told Vientiane Times that Laos and China would establish a joint venture to build the railway.
The Lao government plans to provide land as its share in the venture while the Chinese partner will provide funding for construction of the railway.
The Chinese government has promised to provide financial support for the joint venture to build the 400km railway.
The officials also said Laos and China are now carrying out a survey for the proposed railway, which they hope to complete before the end of this year.
“The survey will give us information about the cost of construction and where the track is to be laid,” a senior official from the Lao Ministry of Public Works and Transport told Vientiane Times.
Lao Railway Authority Deputy Director General, Mr Sompong Pholsena, told Vientiane Times earlier the railway would be able to accommodate medium speed electric trains, which can run at about 200km per hour. The highest speed trains can run at 350km per hour, he said.
According to officials from the Lao Ministry of Planning and Investment, the government has included the railway as one of the large-scale investment projects in its 2011-2015 socio-economic development plan.
The officials said construction would begin within the next five years. However, they were unable to confirm whether the project would be finished within this period of time, saying the decisive factor was funding and cooperation from other Asean countries.
The Chinese government has a clear policy to invest in the construction of an Asean-China railway as a means to boost trade between the two sides. China has said it will cooperate with the Thai government to build the railway.
The Thai government has agreed to cooperate with China to build the railway from the Lao-Thai border in Nong Khai province to Bangkok. However, the Thai government will not be able implement the project until it gets approval from Parliament.
At present Laos’ only railway is a 3.5km track running from the Vientiane-Nong Khai Friendship Bridge to Thanalaeng station on the outskirts of Vientiane.
October 6th, 2010, 11:06 AM
October 8th, 2010, 02:04 PM
Laos Forms Stock Exchange, Plans Start of Share Trading in 2011
Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Laos, the smallest economy in Southeast Asia, is starting its first stock exchange to provide local companies with an avenue to raise funds for expansion and investment, the bourse’s chief said.
The stock exchange will start trading shares “some time” in early 2011, Dethphouvang Moularat, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Lao Securities Exchange, said in a telephone interview from Vientiane yesterday. The bourse will be officially established this week, he said, declining to give the specific date.
Landlocked Laos is seeking global investors to help pay for infrastructure projects and create jobs for its 7 million citizens, nearly half of whom are younger than 16. Rio Tinto Group and Electricite de France SA are among companies that have boosted investments in mines and power plants to tap into the nation’s rivers and other natural resources.
“Having a capital market will greatly help domestic companies raise expansion capital,” said Douglas Clayton, Phnom Penh-based chief executive officer of Leopard Capital, which manages about $34 million of assets in Cambodia. “It will also stimulate the growth of a private equity industry because an IPO can create an exciting exit route for such funds.”
Laos’ economy may expand 7.5 percent in 2011 from an estimated 7.4 percent this year and a 5.5 percent pace in 2009, boosted by electricity sales to Thailand and higher prices of copper, gold and silver, the Asian Development Bank said in a report on its website.
Rio, the world’s third-biggest mining company, and Mitsui & Co. are jointly exploring bauxite and other minerals in Laos, the two companies said in August. Electricite de France, Europe’s biggest utility, and its partners operate a 1,070- megawatt hydro power plant in Laos, the country’s largest.
“The stock market is the key stepping stone for the country’s economic development,” said Dethphouvang. “The need for new capital has increased significantly with expansion of the economy and investments.”
Dethphouvang declined to say how many companies may be listed when the exchange starts trading shares. In neighboring Thailand, about 478 companies are publicly traded on the main board of the nation’s bourse while Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange has more than 260 listed stocks.
“The challenge is to educate retail investors about the basic principles of company valuation so the exchange does not start to resemble a casino,” Leopard Capital’s Clayton said. “Most emerging markets have gone through a hyper-speculation phase at one time or another, and the inevitable massive correction can crush investor interest for a long time.”
Clayton said in August Leopard Capital plans to raise about $50 million to invest in Cambodia and Laos. The company plans to open a representative office by the end of this year in Vientiane, the capital of communist-run Laos, he said.
October 10th, 2010, 04:49 AM
Laos, Russia proud to mark 50 years of diplomatic ties
The people of Laos and Russia are proud of their growing bilateral relations, especially as the two countries celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties (October 7, 1960-Oct 7, 2010).
Hundreds of people from all walks of life and the Russian community in Vientiane yesterday gathered to celebrate the diplomatic birthday in a grand event held at the National Culture Hall in Vientiane.
Vice President Bounnhang Vorachit, Russian Ambassador to Laos Oleg V. Kabanov and high-ranking officials from both sides attended the afternoon event.
The presidents of the Lao-Russian and Russian-Lao Friendship Associations recounted with great appreciation the tradition of longstanding friendly relations and cooperation between both nations, particularly the assistance extended by the Soviet Union in support of the revolutionary task of the Lao people.
“Today, we are very honoured and proud to attend this grand meeting to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties. This is an important day in the history of friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries and peoples,” said President of the Lao-Russian Friendship Association, Mr Sommath Pholsena.
He represented the Lao government and people in expressing hearty congratulations and best wishes to the government and people of Russia on this occasion.
Mr Sommath, who is also Minister of Public Works and Transport, spoke highly of the effective and valuable assistance and support the Party, government and people of the Soviet Union have extended to Laos.
“Since diplomatic ties were established, the Soviet Union has extended continuous effective assistance and support to the revolutionary task of the Lao people against colonialism. The Lao people were eventually victorious and proclaimed the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) on December 2, 1975,” he told the audience.
After the establishment of the Lao PDR, the Soviet Union continued to provide assistance to the construction and development of the Lao PDR in all core areas.
The Soviet Union has provided assistance in socio-economic infrastructure development and for culture and human resource development, particularly in the early stages after the nation achieved liberation and was laying solid foundations for national development, Mr Sommath said.
Mr Sommath referred to the Soviet Union as a “trusted, reliable and helpful friend” of the Lao people and reiterated that the Lao government and people always appreciate the valuable and effective assistance extended by the Soviet Union (present-day Federation of Russia) to Laos.
“The Lao government and people are very proud to see the tradition of friendly relations and effective cooperation has continued to grow over the past 50 years,” he said.
He reaffirmed that Lao people would exert their utmost efforts to work together with the people of Russia to strengthen further the tradition of friendly relations and sound cooperation between the Lao PDR and the Russian Federation for the further benefit and prosperity of the two peoples.
Laos and Russia have maintained regular contact and exchange visits between leaders and officials at various levels, including a visit by Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Thongloun Sisoulith in 2009. President of the Lao National Assembly Thongsing Thammavong also visited Russis this year.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov paid an official visit to Laos in July this year.
For his part, President of the Russian-Lao Friendship Association, Mr Vladimir Sokolin, who arrived in Vientiane yesterday to celebrate the anniversary, also spoke highly of the two nations' relations.
“It is true we are longstanding close friends,” he told the audience through an interpreter. “For Russia, Laos is a strategic partner in southeast Asia.”
He said Russians are very proud of their country for having fully supported Laos.
“On behalf of the association, we have a strong interest in supporting the further development of our longstanding relations.”
Joint cooperation commissions are currently working in the areas of economics, trade, science and technology between the two governments, to expand bilateral cooperation.
“All the necessary conditions to facilitate Russian-Lao cooperation have been created,” Mr Sokolin said.
He congratulated and extended sincere wishes to the Lao government, friends and people on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties and said activities to celebrate this special event have also been organised in Russia. These include a photo exhibition and other friendship events.http://www.laopdr.gov.la/ePortal/news/detail.action;jsessionid=PyK0MxMfnKDLdQw1sW50r4H5MxhcHRTHhv5LwfnT92QpLlhMvF1B!551208653?id=26500&from=ePortal_NewsDetail_FromHome
October 10th, 2010, 04:59 AM
Late President Kaysone Phomvihane photos examined
The Kaysone Phomvihane Museum Committee held here on Monday a two-day meeting on the examination of late President Kaysone Phomvihanes photos taken during his overseas
Mme Thongvinh Phomvihane, widow of late President Kaysone Phomvihane, senior officials, retirees and representatives of relevant organisations were on hand.
Mr. Singthong Singhapanya, Deputy Director of the Kaysone Phomvihane Museum Committee, said that there were many photos requiring additional data.
''Over the two days of the meeting the participants are required to examine as many as 439 photos and some of them are without detailed information attached,'' said Mr. Singthong.
After the meeting, these 439 photos will be exhibited for the public and foreign viewers, according to the
Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare helps 556,600 access employment
The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare has claimed it had helped over 556,600 people access employment over the last five years.
These include 413,200 people having worked in agriculture and forestry sectors, 79,200 people in industry and construction sectors, and 22,200 in service sector.
Meanwhile other 53,600 people have been employed overseas, according to Director of the Labour Skills Development and Labour Recruitment Department, Mr. Phouvanh Chanthavong.
"Since 2006, the Ministry has focused on improving the system of labour skills development, labour skills development, labour skills competition and improving labour skills standards"said Mr. Phouvanh.
At the meeting, the participants learned that the ministry had achieved 102.32 per cent of its target in term of labour recruitment. They also learned the ministrys plan for 2010-2011 period, designed as part of the government efforts in translating into reality the strategy for the labour and social welfare sector till 2020.
Also present at the yesterdays meeting was Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Mr. Laoly Faiphengyua. http://app02.laopdr.gov.la/ePortal/news/detail.action?id=26494&from=search
October 13th, 2010, 02:22 AM
Lao Airlines resumes HCM City flight
(KPL) Lao Airlines will open a new air route connecting the Lao capital of Vientiane with Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam via Pakse Airport in the southernmost province of Champassak on October 19.
The new service with the use of the 72 seat French-made ATR72 aircraft will operate three flights a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from Vientiane, and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from Ho Chi Minh City.
A return fare for the Vientiane-Ho Chi Minh City route will be 501 USD, inclusive of taxes and fees.
Source: KPL Lao News Agency
October 11, 2010
October 13th, 2010, 02:23 AM
New Airline Route Between Utapao and Luang Prabang, Laos
On Friday afternoon, at the Pattaya City hall, Pattaya City Mayor Ittipon Khunpleum held a press conference to publicize a new airline route between Utapao Pattaya –and Luang Prabang in Laos, which is great news for travelers.
The press conference invited many dignitaries, such as Rear Admiral Surapong Aysanon-Representative of Utapao Airport, and Mr. Saengprasit Matujan- Vice President of Laos Airline. The new route will be launched on October 29th, by a flight from Vien Tien to Utapao Airport.
October 19th, 2010, 09:43 AM
That Luang four-lane road to be paved soon
(KPL) Vientiane Capital Vice-Mayor Bounchanh Sinthavong and his delegation inspected the progress of the four-lane road expansion and That Luang’s esplanade expansion construction project.
He was briefed about the general conditions of the construction work of the four lane road access to That Luang (grand stupa), from the contractor Phetthavone.
The work began in July, 2010 which met many difficulties ranging from removal of barriers out of the construction area, land clearance to digging during rainy season.
The installation of the drainage is difficult because there were a lot of mud under the ground. However this work has proceeded on well and achieved as planned.
This project is one of the 21 government focal projects in celebration of the coming 450th anniversary of Vientiane proclamation as the national capital.
The four-lane road is 434.28 metres long and 21 m wide with a pavement on both sides. The 13-m wide road surface will be paved with asphalt concrete and all works are scheduled for completion at the end of this month.
Mr Bounchanh advised Phetthavone Construction Company to work with a high sense of responsibility to ensure the road standard.
Source: KPL Lao News Agency
October 18, 2010
October 19th, 2010, 09:44 AM
No casino in new special economic zones
(KPL ) The upcoming development of special and specific economic zones in the Lao PDR is not authorised to operate casino, said Standing Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad at a workshop held at Vientiane’s Lao Plaza Hotel last Friday.
The workshop on the development of special and specific economic zones in Laos has discussed on a new Prime Minister’s decree on management of special and specific economic zones, which is a new legal tool to cap on all activities in the special and specific economic zones.
The decree will facilitate the construction and control of the special and specific economic zones, he continued. He also urged all participants to brainstorm on the decree because it will be a new legal tool.
The special economic zones in Laos have been solely invested by foreign investors, which are different from the cases in neighbouring countries such as China. But in the future the Lao government will invest in the infrastructure construction in the special economic zones, added Mr Somsavat.
Also noteworthy, the building of special economic zones in provinces will differ from province to province, which will be in accordance with the features of each province.
Now there have been three special economic zones of Dork Ngoui Kham in northern Bokeo province, Boten in northern Luang Namtha province, Lao Bao and Savanh-Seno in central Savannakhet province, said Minister of Commerce, Mr Nam Viyaketh.
The government has planned to build Nonthong industrial zone in Vientiane Capital, a stone throw from Km 21. A construction contract for the development of Nonthong industrial zone was signed with a Taiwanese company, he went on.
He continued that the construction of special economic development zones helped boost economic growth and job creation for local people, which is in line with the Party and government’s policy on poverty reduction. The two main supporters for special economic development of Laos, the UNDP and the ADB, have pledged to support the construction of special economic zones, particularly the drafting of legislations. Taking part in the workshop were high-ranking officials from ministries and non-governmental organisations in Laos.
Source: KPL Lao News Agency
October 18, 2010
October 20th, 2010, 10:57 AM
Lao Airlines buys two more ATR 72
(KPL) The Lao Airlines has decided to buy two more planes (ATR 72) with 50 and 70 seats from France to provide the best service for passengers during the celebration of the 450th anniversary of Vientiane proclamation as the capital.
The first ATR 72 will arrive in Vientiane Capital at the end of this month, said Deputy Director of the Lao Airlines, Mr. Sengpaseuth Mathouchack last week.
He added that the decision to purchase the ATR 72 was aimed to improve its service to ensure to provide safety and facilities to domestic and overseas passengers who fly with the Lao Airlines during the celebration of 450th anniversary of Vientiane proclamation as the capital, scheduled for 15 to 21 November.
Mr. Sengpaseuth said that the Lao Airlines was a member in the organising sub-committee for the celebration, so the two planes have been ordered to serve passengers.
In preparation for the grand event, the government has also arranged a large number of vehicles, said the deputy-director.
However, he believed that the number of visitor arrivals might be less than that of the 25th SEA Games held in Vientiane late last year.
The eight aircraft, including four French-made ATR 72 and four Chinese-made MA 60, and more than 400 vehicles are available for the upcoming celebration of the 450th anniversary of Vientiane proclamation as the capital, Mr. Sengpaseuth.
Source: KPL Lao News Agency
October 19, 2010
October 25th, 2010, 11:42 AM
Mega investment projects unveiled
The government has unveiled the first of 21 groups of large-scale investment projects, which it plans to implement over the next five years.
According to the draft of the 7th National Socio-Economic Development Plan, which was distributed at the High Level Roundtable Meeting in Vientiane last week, the government plans to implement 21 groups of large-scale investment projects from 2011 to 2015. Each of the projects comes with a price tag of more than 400 billion kip (US$50 million).
The planned groups comprise railway and road development, projects related to public security and national defence, expressway development, airport development, Mekong bridge construction, inland waterways and riverbank erosion protection.
Other projects are in the areas of urban development, building construction, electricity distribution and generation, mining, irrigation construction and rehabilitation, comprehensive irrigated agricultural development, industrial plants and manufacturing, and tourist site development.
Other groups include intercommunication technology, expansion of education infrastructure, infrastructure development, provision of information and data and disaster management for environmental protection, and human resources and skills development.
Ministry of Planning and Investment officials said the government plans to finance the projects through the national budget as well as encourage local and foreign businesses to invest in the schemes. The government will fund those projects that relate to security.
Officials said the proposed projects offer many excellent investment opportunities and will deliver good profits.
One of the mega investment proje cts in which the private sector can participate is the development of power plants, airports, railways, and human resources, with investors assured of making a profit, they said. The government will join forces with China to set up the Lao-China Railway Company, which will be responsible for building and operating a railway link between the two countries. The company will reap the financial rewards of providing rail travel to the public and companies that transport goods by rail.
A foreign company is already conducting a feasibility study on the construction and operation of a new airport in Vientiane, in response to the growing number of passengers and cargo entering and exiting Laos.
According to a report from the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the government needs US$15 billion to implement its five year socio-economic development plan and ensure economic growth of 8 percent.
The government will provide 10 percent of the capital needed for the plan and expects to obtain funding from private sources for about 50 percent of budget needs. An additional 25 percent is expected to come from Official Development Assistance.
The remaining amount will be sourced from credit provided by domestic commercial banks.
By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update October 25, 2010)
October 30th, 2010, 10:19 AM
A new power project in Laos
A contract was signed in Vientiane on October 28 by Electricity of Laos and the Xekaman 1 Electricity Company to build a hydroelectric power station.
It will be located in Xekaman River by the Sanxay district, Attapeu province in southern Laos, and 70 kilometres from Kon Tum province in Vietnam.
The US$441.6 million-invested project will start in late 2010 and is scheduled for completion by 2015. It has a capacity of 322 MW and annual electricity output of 1.2 billion KWh.
The project is part of an energy exchange programme between the two governments.
November 1st, 2010, 09:24 AM
Pattaya-Luang Phrabang Service Takes To The Air
Another significant link has been added to help cement Thai-Lao relations with the first of a bi-weekly air Pattaya-Luang Phrabang service, operating on Fridays and Sundays, direct. The link will also allow land-locked Laos one more badly needed sea outlet and encourage the two-way interchange of tourists.
Pattaya, 29 October 2010: The first Pattaya-Luang Phrabang- flight of Lao Airlines was given an excellent welcome, as well as send-off by a high-powered reception committee at U Taphao-Pattaya International Airport on the first leg of its two-way journey.
The captain, crew and passengers were met by the airport’s Deputy Director, Captain Somphop Suwitthayalungkan, and significant community members, including the 32 representatives of the Eastern Seaboard’s hotel, tourism, and industrial sectors, eagerly awaiting the first Lao Airlines QV410 Pattaya-Luang Phrabang flight to take them on their two-day tour of Laos.
The Lao Airlines captain, Kaew Nammawon, and crew were duly welcomed by the U Taphao reception committee, which had come both to greet the Laotian crew on its inward flight and also to give the first Pattaya-Luang Phrabang- flight a good send-off.
Among the passengers on the first flight were the 32 representatives of the Eastern Seaboard’s hotel, tourism, and industrial sectors, identified by Mr. Seri Phiasai, MD of Swift Aviation Services, on a friendly fact finding mission to Laos. They expected to reach Luang Phrabang at 12.00 pm, first stop on a whistle-stop two-day tour.
“This lucky group will get the opportunity to visit the Kingdom of Lan Chang, the Land of Resourceful Hills and Streams, as well as see beautiful Luang Phrabang,” Mr. Seri told PDN.
Reference was also made to the sterling role U Taphao-Pattaya International Airport played during the 2008 paralysis of Suvarnabhumi Airport, when it made its mark at a critical time, handling flights Bangkok couldn’t. This helped forge U Taphao-Pattaya’s reputation as an international airport which could be trusted to fulfil its purpose.
November 17th, 2010, 09:35 AM
Vietnam’s group builds urban area for Laos
Vietnamese corporation Ha Do conducted a groundbreaking ceremony for the new urban area named Nongtha in Chantabuly district of the Lao capital city of Vientiane on November 15.
The US$250-million project, designed by Singaporean company Surbana, consists of a modern ecological urban area with schools, trade centres, offices, housing and works to celebrate major events in Vientiane as well as in Laos.
This area is expected to provide many jobs for local people and change the face of northern Vientiane, thereby strengthening special ties between the two countries.
At the ceremony, Secretary of the Vientiane Party Committee Sombath Yialiher thanked the Vietnamese Party and Government as well as the Ha Do group for assisting Laos with this important project, which he said bears great socio-economic significance.
December 14th, 2010, 03:33 PM
World Bank: Hydropower helps Laos gov't
THAKHEK, Laos, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The government in Laos has funneled revenue generated from electricity sales from a hydroelectric plant to the public sector, the World Bank said.
The World Bank said that since operations at the facility started in April the government has channeled $2 million from electricity sales to education, $1.7 million toward rural roads and another $1 million on public health.
World Bank Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati said the hydropower facility was helping the Laotian government better manage its revenue stream.
The project has been "transformational for Laos and served as a showcase on how large industrial projects can contribute to socially and environmentally sustainable development and that private sector and public sector can work together to support environmental protection," she said in a statement.
Financial backers of the $1.5 billion project had expressed concern over the environmental impact of the project, one of the largest hydroelectric dams in the region.
Apart from an increase in per capita income, the World Bank said the environmental impact from the project was anticipated and appropriate mitigation efforts are in place.
The power station will supply 95 percent of its electricity to the grids in Thailand and the remaining 5 percent to Laos. The 5 percent is enough to meet 20 percent of the annual energy demand in Laos.http://www.upi.com/Science_News/Resource-Wars/2010/12/14/World-Bank-Hydropower-helps-Laos-govt/UPI-88141292331181/
December 24th, 2010, 01:09 PM
New Laos prime minister after surprise resignation
Laos has announced it has a new prime minister after the surprise resignation of Bouasone Bouphavanh.
Mr Bouasone, 56, who had spent more than four years in office, is replaced by Thongsing Thammavong, of the communist-dominated National Assembly.
Mr Bouasone cited "family issues" but analysts say the reason for his resignation was more likely the product of internal factional re-alignments.
Laos is due to hold a general election early in the new year.
A government spokesman said Mr Bouasone would remain a member of the central committee of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, which holds a near monopoly on power.
The new prime minister was approved unanimously by the National Assembly's 101 members.
Political shifts are carefully choreographed in the People's Democratic Republic of Laos, a large but under-populated, land-locked state bordering Vietnam, China and Thailand.
"Sifting the tea leaves, this is a shift in the internal factional alignments, a shifting in the balance of power within the politburo," said Damien Kingsbury, chair professor in the School of International and Political Studies at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia.
"It is certainly not transparent, but it happens from time to time," he told the BBC.
He said there was unlikely to be any major shift in policy as a result of the change in leadership, adding that China's growing prominence in the country was likely to continue.
Laos is one of Asia's poorest nations and relies heavily on foreign donors.
China has made huge investments in Laos, building roads, and agricultural and industrial estates across the country, which has long been politically close to Vietnam.
A high-speed railway is planned to run from China to Laos.
Laos former prime minister said earlier this year that the country could achieve at least 8% annual economic growth to 2015, "to lift the country from underdevelopment by 2020".
Critics say that large foreign investment projects form the the basis of this growth strategy.
Non-governmental organisations have warned against importing foreign labour, and of the potentially negative impact on the environment and socio-economic development.http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12072846
December 24th, 2010, 02:39 PM
Any construction in Viengtian city?
January 23rd, 2011, 01:41 AM
An Giang boosts multifaceted cooperation with Lao provinces
The Mekong Delta province of An Giang and Laos ’ Champassak province have signed cooperation agreements in politics, socio-economics, culture and science and technology for 2011.
The agreements were reached during a working session between a Champassak delegation of the provincial chapter of the Lao National Construction Front and the An Giang chapter of the Vietnam Fatherland Front.
Under the agreements, the two sides will strengthen information exchange on policies, achievements and experiences in the development cause of the two countries in general and the two provinces in particular.
Champassak province will inform Vietnamese people about An Giang’s foreign policies and provide material and spiritual support for Vietnamese with difficulties in its locality.
Meanwhile, An Giang province will introduce the customs and cultural traditions of Laos to its local people. The province will build five houses of great unity worth VND250 million in total for its neighbour and organise a fair of high-quality Vietnamese goods in the Lao province, looking towards the establishment of the An Giang-Champassak Friendship Association.
An Giang and Champassak have enjoyed close ties for a long time. The An Giang provincial Fatherland Front Committee presented 10 sets of computers for Champassak, helping strengthen the friendship and solidarity between the two provinces.
During its stay in An Giang, the Champassak delegation offered incense at the temple of late State President Ton Duc Thang in My Hoa Hung commune, Long Xuyen city, and visited An Giang University.http://english.vovnews.vn/Home/An-Giang-boosts-multifaceted-cooperation-with-Lao-provinces/20111/123332.vov
February 6th, 2011, 09:15 AM
Vehicle ownership tops one million
The number of vehicles in Laos is still increasing, with Public Works and Transport Ministry figures showing that 1,008,788 were registered in 2010 – an increase from 886,348 vehicles in 2009.
The total population of Laos is about 6 million.
The figures include motorbikes, cars, trucks and pick-ups with Vientiane topping the list with 419,167 vehicles registered – however the report only records those vehicles that are registered.
Savannakhet is second on the list of vehicle ownership with 145,842 while Xekong records the lowest with 5,534 vehicles in 2010.
“The increasing number of vehicles in Vientiane will cause traffic to slow in some areas of the city, especially during rush hour,” said Acting Head of the Traffic Control Division Mr Sisamoud Phanthachak.
“We are calculating the cost of improving bus transport to encourage the public to change their habits. There will be many more vehicles on the roads over the next five years and traffic jams will be routine. A reliable public bus service would help reduce vehicle use during peak periods.”
Investments in bus services will improve public transport if the routes planned suit the public's needs. Bus services could also reduce the number of accidents and reduce parking congestion, he said.
Many people in developing countries use buses to get to work, he added. “But this project is still under investigation.”
“It's not easy to build new roads or bridges in Vientiane because of the cost involved. So a bus service would be a good option in helping to reduce traffic congestion,” he said.
Mr Sisamoud said cheap Chinese cars are flooding the market, with more and more people buying them.
There are now more than 270 vehicle and motorbike dealerships in Vientiane, said Lao Automotive Association President Mr Saneu Chounlamany.
February 12th, 2011, 07:51 AM
New plan outlines long term vision for Vientiane
Vientiane could be one of the region's most livable towns in the future, if a new draft urban development master plan is put into practice.
The plan provides a vision for development until 2030, city planning experts announced yesterday.
The draft is expected to be finalised next month before being submitted to the government for consideration and approval.
Officials from the relevant sectors met in Vientiane yesterday to give their comments and opinions on the draft plan, which is supported by the government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Under the new master plan, Vientiane will be developed into several sub-centres to expand the town and reduce traffic congestion in the city centre.
Currently, Vientiane is facing severe traffic congestion due to the growing number of vehicles in the city centre, especially in the mornings, in areas where the most important government and private sector offices are located.
The new sub-centres will include KM 21, Thanalaeng, Dongdok, Naxaithong and Railway town, which will hold a station rail yard and operational facilities related to the Laos-China rail link, due for completion in 2015.
The new urban development policy involves improvements to the road network, public transport, conservation of historic and heritage buildings, restriction and refinement of building control regulations and the relocation of public facilities towards the suburbs.
Vice President of the Council of Science and Technology, under the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Dr Somphone Dethoudom, said he greatly appreciated progress on the new plan.
“The plan sets the guidelines for the development of Vientiane until 2030 with the aim of creating a livable city that includes more public parks, drainage systems and roads,” he said.
Referring to parks, he noted that Vientiane currently has only 0.6sqm of public park per person, but according to international standards there should be 2.6sqm per person.
Vientiane has high economic and demographic growth potential and it is likely that urban areas will rapidly expand towards the suburbs along arterial roads without sufficient infrastructure.
This would create an urban sprawl with poor living conditions and inappropriate social services, and the pastoral charms of the city could be lost.
To counter this problem, appropriate measures must be taken promptly based on a comprehensive urban development plan.
The total area of Vientiane is 3,920 sq km, and its population was 795,000 people in 2009. The study predicts the capital's population will double by 2030.
The master plan stipulates the maximum height of new buildings in the historical town conservation zone to be 12m, and only 7m in the ancient site conservation zone, both found in the downtown area.
But in the new central zone and administration and trade central zone, beyond the present downtown, buildings can be as high as 26m.
Businesses can construct 50m buildings in the suburbs, but must meet special conditions relating to open space, green spaces, indoor facilities for public benefit and fire-proofing.
February 16th, 2011, 12:19 PM
CHIANG RAI, 5 JANUARY, 2011: The construction of the new Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge over the bordering Mekong River is scheduled for its completion on Dec 10, 2012, reports Thai news agency on Wednesday.
Somchai Hatayatanti, Governor of Thailand's northern Chiang Rai Province, said that once inaugurated, the new Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge under the North-South Economic Corridor (NSEC) International Bridge Project, linking Lao PDR’s Houayxay of Bokaeo Province with Ban Don Chai of Chiang Rai's Chiang Khong District will further boost investment, tourism and public transport between the two sisters' countries.
Somchai reported that the construction of the 480-metre-long, 14.7 meter-wide concrete bridge started in June 2010 under a Thai-Lao agreement to facilitate cross-border travel, trade and exchange of logistics among countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region or GMS, particularly land-locked Lao PDR, at a cost of 1.5 billion baht (US$406 million) mutually funded by Thailand and China; while Laos is providing basic facility support.
The Chiang Rai governor said he had also sought cooperation from his Lao counterpart in Bokaeo Province, Thao Kamman Sunwilert, for joint action against cross-border drug trafficking as increased
It is reported that opium plantations have been spotted along the common border.
February 18th, 2011, 12:33 PM
Laos needs to upgrade capital's airport for Asia-Europe summit
Vientiane, Laos - Laos plans to hire a Chinese company to study upgrades to the capital's airport to handle an Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit next year, news reports said Wednesday.
Laos has already received a 12-million-dollar grant from Japan to upgrade Wattay International Airport to accommodate 20 planes by late 2012 when Vientiane will host ASEM, a summit of leaders from the European Union, the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan and South Korea held every two years.
The planned expansion is insufficient, the Vientiane Times said.
'Even under the (Japanese) scheme, Wattay's capacity will still be limited compared to other airports in the region and will not provide enough space to accommodate all flights carrying ASEM delegations next year,' said Somphonh Sygnavong, director of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport's aerodrome and security division.
The ASEM meeting requires the airport to have a capacity to handle 35 planes, including 15 Boeing 747s, for landing and parking.
Wattay can currently handle about 15 planes daily.
'The government informed us three weeks ago we would need to enlarge the parking area further,' said Somphonh, who is also one of the officials responsible for transportation issues at the ASEM.
'The government agreed in principle to grant permission to a China-based company to conduct a feasibility study on the additional expansion,' he said. The ASEM is a forum for dialogue between Europeans and Asians since 1996.
February 22nd, 2011, 09:40 AM
Investment in Laos surges in Q1
Investment in Laos saw a major increase in the first quarter of the current financial year as the resource rich country continued to attract foreign direct investment, according to a senior official from the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
Investment Promotion Department Deputy Director General, Mr Achong Laomao, said on Thursday the government had approved about 100 investment projects from October to December 2010, which would bring investment capital of about US$500 million to the country.
“This figure represents a significant increase compared to the same period last year,” he said in an interview with Vientiane Times on the current investment climate in Laos.
Most of the investment projects approved this fiscal year were in the hydropower, mining and service sectors, he said. This was a strong indication that the natural resource sector was continuing to attract foreign investment.
“The top three foreign investors are China, Vietnam and Thailand.”
Laos expects foreign investment inflow to reach about US$1.2 billion, to secure targeted GDP growth of 8 percent this fiscal year.
According to a report from the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the government mobilised about U$S1.6 billion in investment funding last fiscal year. About 15 percent came from domestic investors and the rest from foreign sources.
The government has stepped up efforts to promote foreign direct investment as it needs US$15 billion during the period 2011 to 2015 if it is to secure annual GDP growth of 8 percent. Some 50 to 60 percent of this is expected to come from the private sector.
The government has enacted a new Investment Promotion Law, in a bid to boost local and foreign investment. A prime ministerial decree is now being formulated to enforce the law. Hopes are high that the decree will soon be completed after several screenings by the cabinet.
A number of countries, including Thailand, have encountered difficulties in getting approval for mining and hydropower projects due to strong opposition from non governmental organisations and local communities, who believe projects in populated areas would not be economical.
Despite strong protests concerning the construction of dams in Thailand, the demand for electricity in that country has increased rapidly due to economic growth. This has forced Thai investors to turn to Laos, which has plenty of hydropower potential due to its extensive river system and mountainous terrain.
However, the Lao government has acknowledged that investment in the natural resource sector is not sustainable and is now encouraging investment in the non resource sector.
The government also plans to invest in human resource development, as a skilled workforce is necessary for employment in processing plants in the future.
By Ekaphone Phouthonesy
(Latest Update Febuary 21 , 2011)
February 24th, 2011, 11:34 AM
Ho Chi Minh gives 3.2 bln kip for bridge construction in Houaphanh
(KPL) Ho Chi Minh City , Vietnam , has provided grant assistance of 3.2 billion kip to co-finance the construction of four bridges in Viengsay, Samtay and Samneua districts in Houaphanh province.
Houaphanh Provincial Public Works and Transport Service signed an agreement with contractors that will carry out the basic infrastructure development projects at a ceremony held in the province on February 18.
The event was witnessed by Director of the Houaphanh Provincial Public Works and Transport Service Linthong Douangchansouk, chiefs of Samneua, Viengsay and Samtay districts, and relevant authorities.
The bridges are to be built on the Nam Soi river 1 and 2 in Viengsay district, the Nam Sam river at Tao village, Samtay district, and Nam Sam at Naphai village, Samneua district.
The construction of the four bridges is estimated at 5.16 billion kip of which over three billion kip is financial grant from Ho Chi Minh City and 2 billion kip is financial contribution by local authorities and people in the districts.
The construction is expected to commence in March and will take nine months to complete.
February 24th, 2011, 11:35 AM
Oudomsay to start Mekong bridge construction soon
(KPL) Oudomsay will soon start building a bridge across the Mekong River between Parkbeng district of Oudomsay and Ngeun district of Sayaboury province, disclosed Deputy Head of the Public Works and Transport Service of Oudomsay.
Mr. Kayakeo Keovongsalasinh said last Friday that at the moment the relevant authorities had achieved some groundwork of the project.
After we are done with the groundwork we would proceed on with the signing of a construction agreement with the Public Works and Transport Ministry.
Designed to be 560 m in length and 13 m in width, the bridge will be built with reinforced concrete at an estimate cost of US$50 million.
The China Export and Import Bank has committed to provide loans for the development project.
The construction will take three years to complete.
Once the bridge is completed it will improve the transportation on Road No 11 to the municipality of Oudomsay province and facilitate the communication between Sayaboury province in northwestern Laos and Nan province in northern Thailand.
March 5th, 2011, 04:07 AM
June 7th, 2011, 02:17 PM
China supports Laos hosting ASEM summit next year: state councilor
Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo said Sunday that China supports Laos' hosting the ninth summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) next year.
Dai made the remark in a meeting with Laotian Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad in Kunming, capital of southwest China's Yunnan Province.
Dai and Somsavat came to Kunming to attend the opening ceremony of the 19th China Kunming Import and Export Fair and the fourth South Asian Countries Trade Fair.
"As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Laos diplomatic ties, the relationship now stands at a new historic starting point," Dai said, pledging that China will make joint efforts with Laos to push forward bilateral relations.More:http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/90776/90883/7400814.html
July 7th, 2011, 11:24 PM
ตอนนี้ ที่เวียงจันทน์ มีห้างสรรพสินค้าอะไรเปิดใหม่บ้างครับ เห็นแว็บๆ ในช่องลาวสตาร์ นะครับ ไปเที่ยวจะได้ไปแวะซะหน่อย
August 6th, 2011, 10:32 AM
Cambodia And Laos Agree To Strengthen Cooperation On Controlling Cross-Border Drugs
VIENTIANE, Aug 5 (Bernama) -- Cambodia and Laos have agreed to expand and further strengthen their bilateral relations and cooperation in controlling the cross-border drugs between both countries', reported Laotion news agency KPL on Friday. More: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=606201
November 21st, 2011, 05:12 PM
Wat, Attapeu, Laos (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ferryvermeer/6028782295/) by Ferry Vermeer (http://www.flickr.com/people/ferryvermeer/), on Flickr
December 17th, 2011, 05:36 AM
Vientiane Map http://www.seacitymaps.com/laos/vientiane.htm
Luangprabang Map http://www.seacitymaps.com/laos/luang_prabang.htm
January 25th, 2012, 10:22 AM
'Wat' Jom Thong, Muang Khong, Laos (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ferryvermeer/6511750023/) by Ferry Vermeer (http://www.flickr.com/people/ferryvermeer/), on Flickr
January 30th, 2012, 11:51 AM
March 30th, 2012, 12:42 PM
Deputy PM checks on building projects for ASEM Summit
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Thongloun Sisoulith this week visited various projects under construction to accommodate delegates to the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit in November.
Dr Thongloun Sisoulith visits Wattay International Airport in Vientiane, which is being enlarged ahead of the ASEM Summit.
Dr Thongloun wished to be informed of the progress made in these projects and to urge the contractors to have all developments completed ahead of the Summit.
On Tuesday, Dr Thongloun visited Wattay International Airport where he viewed the expansion of aircraft parking space to ensure the airport can handle the large planes bringing delegates to the Summit.
The apron expansion is funded by grant aid from the government of Japan and a low interest loan from the government of China.
The Japanese government has provided 1,225 million yen (more than US$16.17 million) to upgrade Wattay International Airport. Work is now 22 percent complete and is scheduled for completion before the Summit takes place on November 5-6.
The airport improvement project has also been financed by a low interest loan from China of US$37.6 million. The work funded by this loan is now 65 percent complete.
Concrete paving has been laid at the airport and the contractor is in the process of installing electrical connections. The project will be completed in September.
The Deputy Prime Minister also visited an 8.1 hectare site where 50 villas are being built at Don Chan in central Vientiane to accommodate heads of state and government attending the Summit.
The developer, CAMCE Investment (Lao) Company, has finished the concrete framework of the villas except for the roofs.
The company is building three model villas first to test them out before building the rest.
Construction of the 50 villas began last August and is scheduled for completion this coming August.
CAMCE - a joint venture between Lao and Chinese companies – plans to spend about US$180 million to develop 25 hectares of land on Don Chan into an urban area, which will include the villas, a hotel, hospital, school, restaurants, and trade centre.
Dr Thongloun also visited a five-star hotel being built at the southern end of Don Chan where ASEM delegates will stay. The hotel is now 30 percent complete.
Financed by the Krittaphong Group, the 8-storey hotel will have 196 rooms and other facilities, with construction estimated to cost US$30 million.
The foundations are in place and the concrete framework will next be built. Krittaphong Group says it plans to have the concrete framework in place before the start of the rainy season.
The ASEM Summit is the largest event ever to be held in Laos, with 48 heads of state and government slated to attend. Topics on the agenda will include politics, economics and culture.
The Lao government believes that by successfully hosting the Summit it will further raise the reputation and profile of Laos in the international arena.
The government has also built 21 roads and an international convention centre in preparation for the conference.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update March 30, 2012)
March 30th, 2012, 12:42 PM
Champasak tipped for Thaksin meet
Published: 29/03/2012 at 08:54 PM Online news: Politics 17
The southern Lao province of Champasak is likely to be the venue for red-shirt supporters to meet deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, according to Noppadon Pattama.
Mr Noppadon, Thaksin's legal adviser, revealed on Thursday Thaksin’s tentative travel plans in Laos and Cambodia during Songkran holidays between April 11 and 15.
He said Thaksin will arrive in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, at about noon on April 11 and stay there two nights before leaving for Champasak province on the morning of April 13.
“Champasak province is near Ubon Ratchathani province, so if any Thai brothers and sisters want to meet Pol Col Thaksin, they can travel there conveniently,” Mr Noppadon said.
Thaksin will be in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province on April 14 and 15.
On the first day of Thaksin’s three-day visit in Laos, a merit-making ceremony and a traditional welcome and well-wishing ceremony - bai sri su kwan - will be held during the day as well as Lao-style Songkran celebrations in the evening, Mr Noppadon said.
Songkran, the water-splashing festival, is regarded as signalling Thailand's traditional New Year and is celebrated every year between April 13 and 15. It is also celebrated in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar at about the same time.
Mr Noppadon said Thaksin’s trips to the neighboring countries have no meaning in politics. The ex-premier only wants to celebrate Songkran holidays, regarded by many as family reunion days, and make merit. Many Pheu-Thai Party MPs and Thaksin followers are expected to visit him during his stay. Mr Noppadon said he does not yet know whether Thaksin’s family members will go to meet him.
Red-shirt core member Kwanchai Praipana early this week announced he would take 1,000 supporters to Laos to meet the globe-trotting ex-prime minister.
April 3rd, 2012, 03:43 PM
Luang Prabang hotels almost fully booked for Lao New Year
Luang Prabang hoteliers are advising people considering visiting the town for Pi Mai Lao (April 12-15) not to go without first booking accommodation.
Hotels in the World Heritage town of Luang Prabang are almost fully booked for the Lao New Year holiday from April 12-15. People planning to visit the town are advised to make sure they have a hotel reservation before they travel. -- Photo Phonekeo
Almost all hotels and guesthouses in Laos' first world heritage city are fully booked, President of the Luang Prabang Hotel and Guesthouse Association Mr Kounchanthaboupha Vongsaravanh told the Vientiane Times yesterday.
It is already very difficult to find a room for this period and about 99 percent of rooms in hotels and guesthouses, which can accommodate 6,000 people a day, are booked out from April 12-15.
Mr Kounchanthaboupha suggested that people who have not yet booked accommodation should not travel to Luang Prabang for the Lao New Year, as expecting to find a room the re upon arrival is now unrealistic.
“I could not even find rooms for my relatives. Those who have not made a reservation already should not come as they might be unable to find a place to sleep,” he said.
Some 40 percent more tourists compared to last year are expected to visit Laos's top tourist destination for the festival.
Tour operators said there were several seasons to explain this year's remarkable increase. They cited the ‘Visit Laos Year 2012' campaign, and also said instability and unrest in other countries in the region have been significant in diverting tourism traffic to Laos.
During the festival, visitors can enjoy several events including a trade fair slated to open on April 9 at the That Luang stadium. A concert will take place at the same venue one day later in which Lao and foreign singers will perform, according to the provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department.
The highlight of the festival – the Nang Sangkhan contest - will take place along with traditional and modern stage performances on April 11-12. Sand stupa building and baci ceremonies are scheduled for April 13, together with cultural performances and traditional sports competitions.
On April 14, visitors can experience the traditional lifestyle of the Leu ethnic group at the Leu cultural village of Phanom. On the same day, the Vor parade will give visitors a comprehensive picture of the former capital of Laos and its special culture.
On April 15, visitors can join Party and state leaders in giving alms to monks at the former Royal Palace, among many other events slated until April 18.
Many towns throughout Laos are preparing to hold celebratory activities over Lao New Year.
The southern province of Champassak plans to hold activities from April 9-12 in Pakxong district. These will include traditional performances and boat racing, according to the Deputy Director of the provincial Information, Culture and Tourism Department, Mr Phou-ngeun Bouasy.
The province will also hold a Nang Sangkhan parade on April 14.
Savannakhet is drawing up plans to celebrate Pi Mai Lao with provincial authorities set to meet today to agree on activities to be held.
Initially, the department planned to close Latsavong Road on April 13 for the celebrations. Details will be determined later today, said an official at the provincial Tourism Department, Mr Somsanouk Bouttakhot.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update April 03 , 2012)
April 3rd, 2012, 03:45 PM
Govt to retake control of ‘dot la' internet domain name
The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications plans to retake control of the national internet domain name ‘dot la' this year decades after allowing the private sector to run businesses on the state asset.
The ministry announced at its annual conference last month that it was negotiating with a foreign firm to return the country domain name to the government before the end of this year.
This would allow the government to regulate its use and generate income from domain users.
Some 20,000 to 30,000 websites are currently using the ‘dot la' domain, generating a large amount of income for domain name operators, according to ministry officials. However, the government receives only a concession fee from domain name operators in payment.
Each country has its own internet domain name – in Vietnam it is VN while in Thailand it is TH. The government considers the domain to be a resource, which it owns in its capacity as a member of the United Nations. The Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA) has control of the two Top Level Domain (TLD) names in the world, the country codes (ccTLD) and Generic TLD (gTLD) codes. The gTLD codes include net, org and com.
Most Lao internet users use a second level domain name such as dot org dot la, or dot gov dot la.
A senior official at the ministry's Information and Technology Department said he welcomed the move, saying it was appropriate for the government to regulate the use of the state asset.
“In the past, the government did not have the finances or the personnel to develop and regulate the use of the national internet domain name so it allowed the private sector to make use of it. But now the government is ready to take control of the country domain name,” he said.
The official said the government and private sector repr esentatives had signed the minutes of a meeting at which a foreign company agreed to return the national internet domain name to the government. He did give any details of the amount of money paid by the government to the company in compensation.
The official said the change in management of the domain name would not adversely affect users, adding that subscribers will continue to pay the same price to use it.
He said the ministry was discussing the details of the domain name service fee with the sector concerned so that it could start charging subscribers. The government has built the National Internet Centre so that it can take control of the internet signal connecting Laos to the international gateway in Hong Kong.
The centre will not only be in charge of providing an internet signal within Laos but will also manage the use of the ‘dot la' domain.
Officials in charge of internet operations in Laos said the ministry had invested a large amount to install the infrastructure and equipment needed to ensure the security of internet domain subscribers. This would give individuals and the private sector more confidence in hosting websites on the domain.
They also said that a number of officials had been trained to manage the use of the internet domain name more effectively.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update April 03 , 2012)
April 3rd, 2012, 03:46 PM
Dams in Laos may kill fishing in Cambodia
"The revenue will come to Laos, by exporting energy to Thailand and Vietnam," says researcher Guy Ziv, "and the fish will be lost in the floodplains of Cambodia and Vietnam, but mainly in Cambodia." (Credit: Mekong River fishing via Shutterstock)
STANFORD (US) — Planned dams in Southeast Asia would harm fish productivity and biodiversity in the world’s largest inland fishery, a new study says.
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The new dams, planned for tributaries of the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, will be more environmentally destructive and will produce less energy than the dams in the main river, according to Stanford University researcher Guy Ziv.
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Read the original study
“You can get the same energy production with very different environmental impact, depending on which dams you build,” says Ziv, a postdoctoral scholar in biology and the lead author of a study recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study looked at 27 tributary dams planned for construction between 2015 and 2030. The future of those dams is still to be decided, but if built they would significantly affect fishing. Laos plans to build 26 of the 27 dams, but the most significant effects will be felt in the fisheries of neighboring Cambodia.
Dams block fish from migrating, and more than a million tons of freshwater fish are harvested in Vietnam and Cambodia annually.
“The revenue will come to Laos, by exporting energy to Thailand and Vietnam,” Ziv says, “and the fish will be lost in the floodplains of Cambodia and Vietnam, but mainly in Cambodia.”
“[The loss of fish] translates to a big impact on food security of a very poor population,” he says. “There is a huge population that relies on a cheap food supply from fish, and their livelihood will be impacted.”
The international Mekong River Commission, a coalition of Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand, regulates the dams in the main stream of the Mekong River. However, the individual nations regulate the offshoot tributary dams and only need to notify the commission, rather than seek its approval. Ziv’s study focused mainly on tributary dams, an often-overlooked area of environmental impact, he says.
The commission is considering scenarios including these 27 tributary dams, and up to 11 mainstream dams in the lower Mekong River Basin.
If only the planned tributary dams are built, the migratory fish population in the Mekong will decline by 19 percent, according to Ziv’s computer projections. If, however, six of the mainstream dams are built, the fish population will decline by only 7 percent, while the dams will produce 49 percent more power.
Using the computer models, Ziv and his collaborators calculated the energy production and the loss of fish if certain dams were built. They used that model on every configuration of building or not building any of the 27 dams, resulting in more than 130 million scenarios. This data allows planners to quickly identify which scenarios produce the best results.
“If you want a certain amount of energy, [our calculations showed] which dams you should build to minimize the impacts on food production,” Ziv says.
Cambodia’s only planned tributary dam of the 27, the Lower Se San 2 Dam, is the most disruptive. “Lower Se San 2 Dam is probably good to be avoided, unless you need all the energy you can supply,” Ziv says. The Cambodian government approved the dam last year, although construction has yet to begin.
The next most damaging dams would be those built in Sekong Province in Laos. “The benefits are questionable, unless you really need more than 15 terawatt hours per year,” says Ziv.
“Our results really suggest that some dams can and should be avoided,” Ziv says. “It calls for some change in the international agreement in the area.”
Furthermore the amount of fish lost correlates with the number of endangered species affected. Biodiversity provides a role in supporting the ecosystem, although that role is vague, underestimated and hard to give an economic value, Ziv says.
“This is a first step,” he says. “Getting a more complete picture requires getting the impact on sediments and the social costs. We hope something along this line can be done [in the future] in collaboration with the stakeholders.”
More news from Stanford: http://news.stanford.edu/
April 5th, 2012, 01:52 PM
China likely to become Laos' largest foreign investor
Publication Date : 04-04-2012
China looks set to become the largest foreign investor in Laos in the near future as Chinese businesses make further inroads into the country.
This was the opinion expressed by Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Secretary General Khanthavong Dalavong during an interview with Vientiane Times yesterday.
"Chinese investment in Laos has increased rapidly since the end of last year. If the rate of increase remains unchanged, China will become the largest foreign investor in the near future,” he said.
At present, China is the second largest foreign investor in Laos after Vietnam, Khanthavong said, quoting a report from the Ministry of Planning and Investment. He was unable to give details of the current value of Chinese investment.
From 2000 to 2010, Vietnam was the largest foreign investor with an investment value of US$2.77 billion, while China was in second place with an investment value of $2.71 billion. Thailand ranked third with a total investment value of $2.68 billion.
Khanthavong said the rapid increase in Chinese investment was due to the Chinese government's policy to encourage companies to expand into overseas markets including Laos. At the same time, the Lao government has been strongly promoting foreign investment in order to boost economic growth.
The Lao government is assisting Chinese firms to invest in northern Laos, especially in the areas of agribusiness, mining, hydropower and real estate development, he added.
"Laos and China have agreed on a list of 300 priority products as a means to boost bilateral trade and investment,” Khanthavong said, adding that China's offer to reduce import duties on Lao products would further encourage Chinese investment in Laos.
He said many Chinese companies were now establishing industrial farms in northern Laos, growing bananas, sweetcorn and cassava.
Khanthavong said the Asean-China free trade deal, which Laos will have to implement in 2013, will create even more opportunities for Laos to attract Chinese investment .
Lao companies should strengthen their operations and be ready to join forces with Chinese businesses, and should also be prepared to face stronger competition.
"If we are not ready for competition, we run the risk of being controlled by foreign companies,” he said.
Khanthavong said that increasing Chinese investment in Laos would bring both opportunities and challenges.
The increase in foreign investment would boost GDP growth and job creation, he said. But Laos would suffer a major trade deficit and loss of economic power if it could not produce exports for China, which is one of the world's largest markets.
April 15th, 2012, 07:17 AM
ADB: growth to remain strong in Laos
The economy of Laos is forecast to expand by 7.8 percent to 8 percent in 2012, as resource-based industries, manufacturing and services continue to generate robust growth, according to a key Asian Development Bank (ADB) report.
ADB officials officially unveiled the Asian Development Outlook for 2012 at the ADB office in Vientiane yesterday.
Weak global demand will weigh on developing economies in Asia in 2012 but growth rates in most economies are expected to remain robust and should rise again in 2013, with private consumption expected to fuel future growth, according to ADB's flagship annual economic publication.
Across the region, East Asia will see a deceleration in growth to 7.4 percent this year from 8 percent in 2011, weighed down by weaker exports and investment. China, the world's second largest economy, will lead the way with growth set to moderate to 8.5 percent and 8.7 percent for 2012 and 2013, down from 9.2 percent in 2011.
In contrast, Southeast Asia will see growth quicken, with GDP expanding to 5.2 percent in 2012 from just 4.6 percent in 2011, on the back of the continued recovery in the Thai economy.
In Laos, inflation is forecast to moderate to around 6.7 percent in 2012. Lower global food prices will ease the pressures on food, which has a large share in the consumer price index. Given the volatility of fuel prices in the world markets, increased inflation continues to be a threat.
In 2011, the services sector grew by 7.9 percent as tourist arrivals went up by 9 percent to 2.7 million, which helped support the hotel and restaurant business as well as the transport sector.
The roll out of third generation mobile phone and internet services contributed to growth of telecommunications while banking services continued to expand.
In addition, manufacturing sector growth contributed significantly to overall economic growth. One of the major highlights was the garment sector's strong performance, which benefited from the European Union's relaxation of rules of origin for the importation of garments.
Rapid growth in the Asian region is leaving millions behind, causing a widening gap between rich and poor that threatens to undermine the region's stability.
Another 240 million people could have been lifted out of poverty over the past 20 years if inequality had remained stable instead of increasing as it has since the 1990s.
Inequality leads to a vicious circle, with unequal opportunities creating income disparities, that in turn lead to dramatic differences in future opportunities for families. Rising inequality can eventually undermine the growth potential of a country.
The ADB, based in Manila, the Philippines, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclu sive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 member countries - 48 from the region.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update April 12 , 2012)
April 15th, 2012, 11:58 AM
Champassack calls for almost 100 billion kip for road repair
(KPL) The authorities of Champassack province has called for 98 billion kip for the renovation of bridge and road hit by severe flooding and landslide removal.
More than 300 million kip fund is now an urgent request for repairing the damaged roads.
A senior staff of Champassack Public Works and Transport Service, Mr. Phitsahong Phoummavongsa said Champassack province was hit by tropical storm Nork Tene between July and August, triggering flash flood.
Over 80 roads in 10 districts have been reportedly broken caused by severe flooding.
The worst-hit districts are Paksong with more than 100 km long, following by Soukhouma with the stretch of 70 km, five bridges.
The budget for road and Mekong embankment renovation cost 98 billion kip, Mr Phitsahong said.
He added that many roads in Parkse municipality have been broken.
April 17th, 2012, 08:37 PM
Ch Karnchang signs Xayaburi project deal
The Nation April 18, 2012 1:00 am
Despite the current row over the future of the Xayaburi hydropower project in Laos, Ch Karnchang has made another move to bring it to fruition.
The contractor yesterday informed the Stock Exchange of Thailand that its subsidiary, Ch Karnchang (Lao) Co, had signed a Bt51.8-billion engineering, procurement and construction contract for the Xayaburi hydroelectric power plant with Xayaburi Power Co.
Established in 2010 with initial capital of Bt800 million, Xayaburi Power is a subsidiary of Ch Karnchang. It holds a concession for the 1.28-gigawatt power project, which is estimated to cost Bt115 billion.
Ch Karnchang's stock closed at Bt8.10 yesterday, unchanged from the previous closing price. It hit Bt8.30 per share during the day.
Plew Trivisvavet, chief executive officer of Ch Karnchang, said construction was scheduled to commence on March 15 for completion in 96 months. When it starts up, 95 per cent of the output would be sold to Thailand.
The project faces stiff protests from environmentalists who fear that the dam above the Mekong River would affect the ecological system and millions of villagers. The Mekong River Commission (MRC), comprising Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, in 2010 agreed to subject this mainstream dam to approval by the region's governments through a regional decision-making process called the "Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement".
Because of the massive risk and impacts associated with the Xayaburi and other Mekong mainstream dams, a strategic environmental assessment published in October 2010 by the MRC recommends that decision-making on these dams be deferred for 10 years.
Last December, the four governments met again and agreed to postpone the decision over Xayaburi until a joint study on the trans-boundary impacts of the Mekong mainstream dams was carried out.
April 23rd, 2012, 03:07 PM
Lao, Thai institutes ink deal on postgraduate engineering programmes
The National University of Laos (NUOL) on Friday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the King Mongkut Institute's of Technology Ladkabang in Thailand to offer master's and PhD programmes in telecommunications, electronics, information technology, and computer science.
Professor Dr Soukkongseng Saignaleuth ( right ) shakes hands with Associate Professor Dr Kitti Tirasesth at the signing ceremony.
The MoU was signed by NUOL President, Professor Dr Soukkongseng Saignaleuth, and King Mongkut Institute's President, Associate Professor Dr Kitti Tirasesth. The signing was witnessed by representatives from both sides and reporters from both countries.
Dr Soukkongseng said the main purpose of the programme was to network engineering education across the Asean region, to bolster education as well as human development.
He said the programme reflects the rapid progress made in the era of globalisation and information technology. It is vital to have a workforce with the skills needed for today's job market and to meet socio-economic development goals.
“Cooperation among universities at the national, regional and international levels, especially with this institute, is of vital importance. Today there is no single higher education institution that can realistically expect to attain the highest standard in every field of study by itself,” Dr Soukkongseng said.
He explained that active cooperation would make the programme a great success, but it would require a lot of effort and contributions on the part of the officials involved.
The programme is part of the sub-network of the Asean University Network (AUN), aimed at promoting human resource development in engineering in Asean countries.
The two institutions first signed an MoU in 1998, since when many teachers have taken bachelor and master's degrees under the cooperation project.
Teachers and students are taking degrees under the AUN/SEED-NET programme. The first group of 30 Lao master's degree students have graduated, and the first eight PhD candidates are still working towards their degrees.
Dr Soukkongseng said NUOL sees that the programme has made significant contributions to improving the quality of education, not only in mechanical engineering, which has been identified as an important field, but also in civil and electrical engineering.
The programme's ultimate goal, he said, is to contribute to the economic development of Laos by leveraging the IT service industry and establishing a sustainable system for developing human resources in the government and private sectors.
The IT service industry in Laos has developed steadily since the project started, but is still small by international standards. IT service sales volume as a proportion of GDP averaged 1.91 percent worldwide in 2007, but in Laos it was only 0.46 percent in 2009.
April 23rd, 2012, 03:10 PM
Laos Site Eyes World Heritage List
Officials say they hope to make the ancient Plain of Jars an international attraction.
Part of the Plain of Jars site in northern Laos’s Xiangkhoang province.
Laos is aiming to get its Plain of Jars archeological landscape inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list as early as 2015 but has to grapple with requirements to upgrade infrastructure facilities for tourists visiting the site, officials say.
The plateau, in northern Laos’s Xiangkhoang province, has over 90 sites scattered with one- to three-meter (three- to 10-foot) high ancient stone jars that archeologists say were used in burial practices in the Iron Age.
It is already one of the biggest tourist attractions in Laos, which this year is conducting a “Visit Laos 2012” campaign.
"Now we are getting ready and planning to get the status in 2015 or 2016,” a Xiangkhoang province official, who did not wish to be named, said last week.
But he admitted there were challenges before the area could qualify for World Heritage Site status, including improvement of roads, hotels, and tourist facilities.
“The services to tourists and safety are still inadequate,” he said.
"It's difficult to build more roads, and especially a larger airport; in order to be approved a World Heritage site, the Plain of Jars has to have a better airport."
Laos named the area to its “tentative list” for nomination to World Heritage Site status in 1992, but the site has not yet been named to list alongside the country’s two other sites, the town on Luang Prabang, in the north, and the Vat Phou temple complex in southern Laos.
Lao officials have said for the past several years that they are preparing the nomination dossier for the Plain of Jars, but have not said whether they will be submitting it for review at the next meeting of the UNESCO committee in St. Petersburg, Russia, in June.
“All the sites which are on the tentative list have the potential of being inscribed,” said Roni Amelan, a spokesman from the UNESCO World Heritage Centre.
“But the considerations which come into play in determining whether a site is inscribed or not include not only that the site itself is of ‘outstanding universal value,’ but also … that it has a sustainable management plan to ensure the preservation of these qualities.”
If a site on a country’s “tentative list” is not accepted after being submitted to the UNESCO committee, the committee can recommend changes, such as to the site’s management plan or to the boundaries of the area included in the site.
“The logic of the inscription process … is also to ensure the preservation of the site,” Amelan said.
Since 1998 UNESCO and the Lao government have worked on clearing unexploded ordinance hazards in the area, preventing of soil erosion, and surveying and mapping the area, among other initiatives, through a joint “Safeguarding the Plain of Jars” program.
Laos already has two World Heritage Sites, including its biggest tourist attraction, the town of Luang Prabang in northern Laos, which was inscribed on the list in 1995.
Vat Phou, a ruined Khmer temple complex in southern Laos’s Champasak province, was designated a World Heritage site in 2001.
Reported by RFA’s Lao service. Translated by Max Avary. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.
Copyright © 1998-2011 Radio Free Asia. All rights reserved.
April 25th, 2012, 10:28 AM
Plain of Jars - Traditionally considered as the booze Jars of Khun Jueang (Ancestor of Lao people) even though they have been discovered that there are piles of human ash after cremation in those stone jars
April 25th, 2012, 11:07 AM
April 25th, 2012, 11:07 AM
Migration putting young people at risk
The number of young people migrating within Laos is on the rise due to poor social and economic circumstances, and the trend is placing an increased number of children in vulnerable situations.
The findings are part of a series of new studies released at a forum held in Vientiane yesterday.
Young women from rural areas work at a garment factory in Vientiane.
“In Laos, internal migration is emerging as a critical issue affecting children and young people,” reported the study entitled ‘Causes and Impacts of Internal Migration on Children in Laos', which was undertaken by the National Economic Research Institute (NERI) under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
According to the report, children in the most remote, impoverished and ethnically diverse areas are often most likely to migrate, exposing them to a variety of risks.
Analysis of data from the Population and Housing Censuses of 1985, 1995 and 2005 shows significant increases in the number of young internal migrants. There was a 49 percent increase in the number of inter-provincial ‘never married 15-24 female migrants' from 1995 to 2005, and a 17 percent increase in the number of male migrants in the same category.
Recent routine data collected by schemes such as the Education Management Information System suggests there have been significant recent waves of internal child migration.
NERI Director General Dr Liber Libuapao said structural economic changes have led to changes in the labour market as industrial enterprises are driving a large proportion of national economic growth.
“The small share of the agricultural sector in national domestic product confirms the inefficiency and poor incomes of the sector where a large portion of labour is occupied, in comparison to industry. This is a main cause of labour migration,” he said.
Urbanisation, industrialisation and modernisation are also factors driving the influx to towns, where better living conditions and more opportunities are available.
“Migration is an attractive option for children and families in rural areas where public services, especially education and healthcare, and employment opportunities are limited,” the study reported.
This study, along with two others, suggests multiple factors driving the migration trend including young people's desire to escape poverty and isolation, resettlement policies, and faster and cheap transport systems.
Migration is reportedly highest in the north and most common among young people and the Tai Deng and Khmu ethnic groups. Its impacts are often highest among those groups as well, for example, Khmu girls frequently migrate as a result of feeling responsible for their parents.
“The studies underscore the fact that young people, who account for more than half of the Lao population, must be carefully considered when looking at the issue of migration,” UNICEF Lao office Deputy Representative Ms Julia Rees said, speaking on behalf of various UN agencies.
Policies on migration not only have critical impacts on youth but also on the development goals of the country, she added.
The three studies were sponsored by UNICEF, the United Nations Population Fund, and the International Organisation for Migration.
The ‘Migration and its Implications on Children and Young People' forum was organised by NERI in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. It was convened to consider possible steps towards addressing the social impact of migration on younger generations.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update April 25 , 2012)
April 25th, 2012, 11:07 AM
Ch Karnchang eyes 10% return from Laos project
The Nation April 25, 2012 1:00 am
Members of a network of people from eight provinces along the Mekong River demonstrate at Ch Karnchang
Ch Karnchang is confident it will earn a return of 10 per cent on its investment in the Bt76-billion Xayaburi hydroelectric project in Laos.
The mega-project, with construction beginning this year and estimated to be completed by 2020, is vital for the future success of the company, chief executive officer Plew Trivisvavet told the annual shareholders' meeting yesterday.
Xayaburi Power Co was granted a 29-year concession from the Laotian government and Ch Karnchang should earn gross profit estimated at 12-13 per cent per year on its 30-per-cent ownership of this company, he said.
Other shareholders are Natee Synergy Co, a subsidiary of PTT, which holds 25 per cent, Electricity Generating Co (Egco) with 12 per cent, the Laotian government with 20 per cent and others with the remaining 13 per cent.
Ch Karnchang will invest close to Bt30 billion gradually over the period of construction.
The company will try to avoid the problems it encountered when it managed the construction of the Bt2.4-billion Nam Ngum 2 power project in Laos, he said. That project earned a disappointing 5 per cent, down from its projected 10-per-cent profit, because of increased construction costs due to the unforeseen rapid rise of the price of oil from US$60-$70 to $140 per barrel during its construction in 2009.
Ch Karnchang's construction backlog totals Bt141.3 billion. Besides Xayaburi, the company is constructing the Purple Line of the mass-transit project under the first contract. Covering the Bang Sue-Bang Yai section, it has a total value of Bt13.97 billion, of which Bt5.28 billion remains outstanding.
The Blue Line under the second contract has a total cost of Bt9.98 billion and the extension of the Blue Line, which will be the fifth contract, is expected to cost Bt4.67 billion.
Also the company is constructing a tobacco plant at Wang Noi, Ayutthaya province, with an expected cost of Bt4.6 billion.
Ch Karnchang is expected to earn profits from other current projects this year with a combined value of Bt15 billion.
The company will perform even better in the coming years, Plew said.
Shareholders approved a dividend payment of Bt0.25 per share for the last half of 2011 on top of the dividend for the first half of Bt0.10. The total dividend for 2011 was Bt0.35 or 20.85 per cent of the share's average cost.
The dividend payments for last year will cost the company Bt578 million.
April 25th, 2012, 11:07 AM
Laos-Vietnam road link fails to meet schedule
Publication Date : 24-04-2012
Construction of the 212 km road linking Laos' Xekong province to the Vietnamese border has been delayed and will not be finished by the 2013 schedule, according to a project official.
Work on the project began in 2009, but to date only 47 percent of the road has been completed.
If the project was running to schedule 80 percent of the road would now be complete, according to project head Mr Bounchanh Sengdara.
He added that the contract for the project expires in 2013, at which point a summary of the work will be made and a new plan will be set, including a projected completion date.
At the outset, the government authorised the Tonghomsombath Con-struction Company to invest more than 370 billion kip (US$44 million) in the project.
The company agreed to initially finance the construction, and the government is set repay the cost over a nine-year period.
Construction has been delayed because of budget constraints and a shortage of vehicles. No one knows exactly when the road will be completed, including six bridges, Bounchanh sai d.
The project has also been plagued by extreme weather conditions, including landslides in the rainy season.
At present the weather is good so work is continuing.
The width of the road varies from 6.5 metres at its narrowest to 11 metres at its widest on the approach to Xekong provincial capital, where it will also have street lighting and drainage channels on both sides to prevent flooding.
Mr Bounchanh said the project is important because it will improve the quality of life in rural communities and encourage private investment in the area.
Without road access it is hard for people in remote areas to improve their living standards, he said.
The road upgrade will also help to develop Xekong's urban areas, especially the provincial capital and Dakcheung district.
The existing road leading from Xekong's main urban area to Dakcheung district is very rough and dusty and conditions are very difficult in the rainy season, hindering commerce and development.
Road construction is a priority of the government to facilitate development and remove Laos from the list of least developed countries.
April 25th, 2012, 11:08 AM
Laos casino project shelved
April 23, 2012 by Simon Liddle
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Laos had intended to develop casinos in several special economic zones but, in a blow to the industry, one such zone will no longer include a gaming property.
Boten, located on the Laos-China border in Luang Namtha province, was this month reclassified by the government as a specific economic zone, removing the casino element from the project.
Boten was established under a concession agreement in 2003, under which it would compromise 12 projects activities, including a casino. The development saw the remote region transformed with new roads, electricity, water, hotels and other facilities to attract investment to the zone.
However, the government encountered "security issues" and issued another decree to manage the zone, determining in 2003 to amend the concession agreement and exclude the casino element to "ensure sustainable development" for the zone.
Pick up a copy of InterGaming's forthcoming May issue for our Macau and emerging Asian market special.
May 1st, 2012, 05:38 AM
Tananuwat family and Khong View Group going to invest 100 Million Baht on View Mall, a community mall on 10 Rai of land in Viengchan Capital - to be opened in 2013 with the capital to be paid back in 10 years. This is a low rise community mall with 62 shops including Rim Ping Supermarket, Food Center, Coffee shop and Beer House, bakery, textile mall, IT mall and tourist agencies.
Khong View Group has invested on the restaurant along the mekhong in Viengchan Capital and now they just expand their investment.
May 2nd, 2012, 05:27 AM
Thai Cabinet approving 718 Million Baht funds for the construction of the 32-km road from Phu Doo, Ban Khok District of Uttaradit to Pak Lai District of Xaiyaburi (LPDR) for better connection with neighbor country
May 2nd, 2012, 08:07 AM
Vientiane's Morning Market bus station to be rebuilt
Chitchalern Construction Company will rebuild the Morning Market bus station in Vientiane so that it can accommodate the 42 new buses being donated by the Japanese government.
Plans for the new bus station are still under discussion among the various sectors concerned so it is not yet known when construction will start, according to the Director of Vientiane State Bus Enterprise Mr Khamphoune Temerath.
The existing bus station near the Morning Market in central Vientiane.
The new facility will have eight storeys. The ground floor w ill be the bus station, the second and third floors will be used for private parking, and the remaining floors will house shops and other commercial outlets, he said. Deputy Director of the station Mr Bouapha Phetvixay said the enterprise will have a 70-year concession to operate the new building.
“We are looking at two places that could be chosen as a temporary bus station once work gets underway. One possibility is a plot of land in the Km 5 area of Chommany village in Xaysettha district and another is near the former Northern Bus Station in Nakham village, Sikhottabong district.”
The new Northern Bus Station is located in Dongnathong village, Sikhottabong district.
The Morning Market terminal is heavily used by people travelling around Vientiane, so the new facility will be a welcome change for the city's many bus passengers.
The 42 buses donated by the Japanese government will help to ease traffic congestion, while also reducing carbon emissions by lowering the number of motorbikes and cars on the road as more people opt to use public transport.
Since 1988, Japan has been supporting the improvement of public transport in Laos and in 2000 the Japanese government provided funding for 56 buses. The Vientiane Public Transport Enterprise is responsible for about 60 buses in the capital.
Traffic jams are increasing in Vientiane as the size of the city and its population increases. However, the number of people using public transport remains low.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update May 2 , 2012)
May 3rd, 2012, 02:15 PM
Laos targets 8% GDP growth for next fiscal year
2012-05-02 12:56:56 GMT2012-05-02 20:56:56(Beijing Time) Xinhua English
by Tom Hodgson
VIENTIANE, May 2 (Xinhua) -- In spite of ongoing economic challenges, such as the effect of the European debt crisis and the risk of natural disasters, Laos will aim to increase its GDP by 8 percent to 80,500 billion kip (about 10.6 billion U.S. dollars) for the 2012/2013 fiscal year.
According to a draft plan completed recently by the Lao Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), the Lao government sets the GDP growth target of 8 percent for the 2012/2013 fiscal year and intends to mobilize investment funding of 3.2 billion U.S. dollars, which will account for 32 percent of GDP.
The plan will be considered for final approval by the cabinet and National Assembly in June this year.
Laos, one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia, is on track to reach this fiscal year's goal of 8.8 billion U.S. dollars, which is 8 percent higher than the previous fiscal year.
The MPI initially forecast a growth of 8.3 percent in the middle of last year, but revised the number to 8 percent because of a less than expected improvement in agricultural output after storms and flooding damaged farming production areas last year.
MORE CHALLENGES AHEAD
Local economists identified two major challenges for 2012/2013: the ongoing European debt crisis and unpredictable natural disasters. The debt crisis is an issue, as Laos exports clothes to the European Union and receives financial aid. There is concern that both these may be affected in the near future.
Serious flooding and storms are an ongoing danger in Laos during the wet season every year. Last year, two major tropical storms struck Laos causing flooding, leaving 42 people dead and more than 200 million U.S. dollars worth of damage. The storms destroyed 37 thousand hectares of rice fields, as well as some important infrastructure such as roads, bridges, schools and health facilities.
The Lao government is taking steps to address these issues. Talks were held recently between EU and Lao government officials to discuss the potential impact of the European debt crisis. Lao government agencies and UN departments also remain alert to deal with flooding. The United Nations Development Program and the World Bank are working with the Lao National Disaster Management Office to develop a national disaster management plan.
Nevertheless, the economists expect that Laos' ongoing political stability will help build confidence among investors. Laos' demographics are also appealing to potential investors, with a young healthy workforce.
FEW DOMESTIC INDUSTRIES
However, a significant percent of the Lao people feel that they have not benefited from the strong economic growth and growing foreign investment, as foreign investment has so far not brought about the expected decrease in unemployment, local media reported recently.
Foreign investment, which amounted to 2 billion U.S. dollars in the first six months of this fiscal year, has created only about 6, 100 jobs, 11 percent of the target for this fiscal year, according to data from the Lao government.
Lao Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare also reported that about 1,780 people, including 634 women, have registered as unemployed and want the government to help them find work. Most are seeking jobs in the agricultural, industrial and services sectors. Lao officials say that a major challenge for job seekers is their lack of skills compared to workers from other countries.
Mana Southichack, director of a local investment advisory firm and economist, told Xinhua last week that job opportunities for the Lao people will also improve more rapidly if the hurdles that decrease foreign investment are removed.
Foreign investment has the potential to create both jobs and foster domestic industries. More large foreign projects in Laos means domestic industries can spring up to support their needs, said Southichack.
At the moment Laos has very few domestic industries, relying heavily on imports. Southichack points to his office door, "Take this for example. The wood is domestic, from a domestic industry. The glass is imported to put in the door. The doorknob and the hinges are all imported from Thailand or China. Even the nails are mostly imported."
On the serious effort being made by the government, Southichack said, "The good thing about this country is that the government is mindful of the problem. They try to reduce the inefficiency, the barriers and the obstacles, and they have been able to make some changes and reduce it."
May 4th, 2012, 01:23 PM
It will catch up with Cambodia, considering their population is small than us
May 4th, 2012, 09:57 PM
Closed Proximity with Mainland China and Thailand with much better relationship with both countries helps Laos to function as a land bridge a lot ...
May 5th, 2012, 01:27 PM
Chinese investors rank as biggest foreign group in Lao stock market: LSX CEO
VIENTIANE, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Chinese investors were the biggest foreign group in the Lao stock market, Lao Security Exchange (LSX) Chairman and CEO Dethphouvang Moularat said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Thursday.
However, Moularat indicated that Thai investors might soon overtake the Chinese. "We have more than 8,000 accounts. For Lao accounts, we have around 50 percent. For accounts for other countries, China is the first, Thailand is the second. But maybe Thailand will become the first in the future."
The LSX is the first capital market in Laos, one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia. It aims to attract huge capital for the development of the country, to raise long-term funds to Lao companies and to promote integrity of the Lao financial market.
The LSX, which was officially opened on Oct. 10, 2010, formally began its trading on Jan. 11, 2011. It may be one of the smallest stock markets in the world. There are only two companies listed on the LSX: one is Laos' largest commercial bank Banque Pour Le Commerce Exterieur Lao (BCEL) and another is EDL-GEN, a unit of state-run energy giant Electricite du Laos.
The Lao government controls foreign investment tightly on the LSX. Under regulations, foreigners are allowed to purchase only 10 percent of listed companies' shares. Furthermore, any given individual foreign investor can hold only one percent.
Moularat expects that will change, however, with the passage of a new securities law regulating the stock market. The law is expected to be passed by the end of this year. "When we have the securities law, I think the amount for them (foreign investors) could increase," he said.
Another new development for the Lao stock market is the expected introduction of an online trading system. Presently all trading must be done in person within the offices of the LSX or by phone.
Moularat told Xinhua that he expected the new home trading system, designed to facilitate further foreign investment, to be available by the end of the year as well.
Moularat also expected several new companies to list on the market soon. "For the near future, I think we will have two or three (new) listed companies like the Enterprise of Telecommunications Lao (ETL), Indochina Group," he said.
May 10th, 2012, 11:18 AM
Trade with Laos grows in first quarter
HA NOI — Bilateral trade between Viet Nam and Laos topped US$232 million during the first quarter of this year, up 57 per cent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Of the total, $96 million came from Viet Nam's exports, up 78 per cent over the same period last year. The two countries plan to foster trade promotion efforts and create more favourable conditions for enterprises to meet and seek co-operative opportunities, in a bid to reach $1 billion in bilateral trade this year.-VNS
May 11th, 2012, 10:56 AM
ARRIVAL HONORS FOR PRIME MINISTER
Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong walks past the Honor Guard upon his arrival at Terminal 2 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on May 10, 2012. The Prime Minister is in town for a three-day goodwill visit. (Chari Villegas)
May 11th, 2012, 10:58 AM
Phl, Laos sign 4 agreements
By Aurea Calica
(The Philippine Star)
Updated May 11, 2012
MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines and Laos signed four agreements to improve bilateral relations as Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong arrived for a three-day state visit yesterday.
At present, there are no Philippine investments in Laos, in the same manner that there are no Lao investments in the Philippines.
But Manila wants Lao businessmen to invest in agriculture, textile, mining, energy and tourism.
President Aquino welcomed the Prime Minister at the Palace where they held bilateral talks and witnessed the signing of the agreements.
The Cooperation Agreement between the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry was aimed at promoting, strengthening and expanding trade, economic, scientific, technological cooperation and other business relations between concerned organizations and firms.
It also sought an exchange of information about commerce, industry and the economy in general.
The government-to-government agreements were the Memorandum of Understanding between the University of the Philippines-Los Baños, Laguna and the National University of Laos to develop academic and educational cooperation and promote mutual understanding between the two universities; MOU between the Foreign Service Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic; and MOU between the Philippine Sports Commission and the Ministry of Education and Sports of the Lao People’s Democratic Sports Cooperation.
The Philippines exports various products to Laos and the balance of trade as of 2011 of $524,355 is in favor of Manila.
A Philippines-Lao PDR Business Council is hoped to be established under the agreement between the chambers of commerce of the two countries to spur economic growth on both sides.
As of December 2011, there are 556 Filipinos in Laos, mostly professionals.
This was Thongsing’s first visit to the Philippines as Lao PDR’s prime minister.
While in the Philippines, Thongsing will visit the International Rice Research Institute, the Asian Institute of Management and the Asian Development Bank.
The Prime Minister will also be the keynote speaker of a business forum being organized by the PCCI.
The Philippines and Laos have been enjoying 57 years of bilateral relations.
May 15th, 2012, 11:59 AM
Vientiane Land Prices Soar
Real estate in the Lao capital explodes in value.
Motorcyclists ride through downtown Vientiane, Feb. 29, 2008.
Real estate prices are soaring in Laos’s capital, Vientiane, residents say, as the city develops at a rapid pace.
Land prices in Vientiane, the country’s economic center, have risen to over U.S. $2,500 per square meter in some areas, up to two hundred times the price in areas in the outskirts of the city.
Residents said prices in prime business areas of the capital were around U.S. $2,500 to $3,000 per square meter in January, but now they have climbed even higher.
The price per square meter is about the same as annual income of the average city resident, which city officials in April said was $2,750, according to the Vientiane Times newspaper.
By comparison, in residential areas of Vientiane, one square meter goes for between $500 and $700, and in rural areas nearby, between $15 and $50, sources said.
One city official said the prices are expected to keep rising.
“Due to economic growth, it is certain that the prices of land will not stop rising,” a land management official in Vientiane told RFA.
The swift increase in the value of real estate comes amid a new city development plan that officials outlined last year.
According to the plan, several new sub-centers will be created to expand the town and reduce traffic congestion in the city center, the Vientiane Times reported.
The plan will also help accommodate the city’s expanding population, currently at about 700,000 and expected to double by 2030, the paper said.
The city is on track to see economic growth of 12 percent this year—compared to 7.8 percent in the rest of the country—driven mostly by industrial development projects, Laos’s Planning and Investment Department said in April, according to the Vientiane Times.
Anticipating higher values, investors are scrambling to buy land for resale in areas where the government has planned to build new road and satellite cities, residents said.
But some people are being left behind in the real estate boom as they are pushed out of their homes to make room for development projects.
Since all land in Laos is owned by the state, some are left with little choice when the government chooses to use their land for a development project.
One resident of Vientiane prefecture’s Sikhottabong district, not far from the capital center, said that when she was told she had to move for a development project, the compensation she received from the state was inadequate.
“The appraisal committee estimate of the price of my land was too low,” she said.
“My land, I think it should have cost between U.S. $100 and $200 per square meter, [since] it is along the road, but they give me only 300 Thai baht [U.S. $10] per square meter,” she said.
Her compensation was also slow in coming, she said.
“I did not receive the compensation yet… They said they will look for new piece of land for me somewhere else to exchange mine, but so far I have not received yet,” she said.
Reported by Krongkran Koyanakkul and Waroonsiri Sungsuwan for RFA’s Lao service. Translated by Somnet Inthapannha. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.
Copyright © 1998-2011 Radio Free Asia. All rights reserved
May 15th, 2012, 12:01 PM
Korea builds social infrastructure in Laos
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Aid agency KOICA focuses on health, education and agriculture
This is the fifth installment of a series of articles introducing programs and activities of the Korea International Cooperation Agency, a state-run organization for overseas assistance and humanitarian aid. ― Ed.
VIENTIANE ― Korea’s aid program in Laos focuses on building social infrastructure to support the country’s drive to overcome poverty, establish a sound market economy and nurture development.
The inland state on the Indochina Peninsula is one of the world’s poorest, according to the United Nations. However, the communist regime has introduced capitalist reforms since the collapse of the Soviet Union 20 years ago.
“Laos has become one of our primary concerns in Asia in recent years,” said Kwon Young-eui, resident representative of the Korea International Cooperation Agency in Vientiane.
“Being one of the least developed states, it has much room for improvement and is willing to accept the changes.”
The agency has selected health, education and agriculture as its top three tasks and pushed related projects through its partnership with the Lao government.
Its most conspicuous achievement is the construction of the Lao National Children’s Hospital, the first of its kind in the country.
The 70-room building in Chanthabouly, Vientiane, was completed in 2011 and is currently operated by the health ministry with the support of KOICA’s medical team.
Korean medical workers treat a wounded child in the Lao National Children’s Hospital in Vientiane. (KOICA)
The $3.5 million-project was designed to lower the country’s infant mortality rate, which is the highest in Southeast Asia.
In provinces outside of central Vientiane, the agency focused on building health centers to fight diseases and promote public awareness of hygiene.
One example is the health center in Phukut District, in the northern Xiengkhuang Province.
The project was proposed in 2006 by local KOICA volunteers and was completed in 2008. The facility has been maintained by local nurses who received their education from Vientiane’s nursing college.
“The center, with its ideal location and focus on fundamental hygiene campaigns, has become the model healthcare example in the entire Xiengkhouang Province,” said Bouasone, director of the provincial Health Department.
The Phukut center provides medical services seven days a week, which is an unusual practice in the country.
“We take turns to be available for patients at all times,” said Oudomphone Nanthavong, one of the nurses.
“We also make visits to individual villages at least six times a year, to provide people with vaccines and to lead hygiene campaigns.”
It is difficult to educate and communicate with minority ethnic groups who do not speak the Lao language, the nurses explained.
“This is a rare case. Many other centers tend to fall apart once the KOICA volunteers complete their project and leave the area,” said Kwon.
“It showed us how we may offer the initiative and motivate the local community to build a better future on their own.”
Education is a crucial part of various development programs as it is a fundamental means to change the people’s way of thinking, according to the agency.
The KOICA and the country’s Ministry of Education and Sports worked to distribute textbooks to 359 schools in 2010-12.
“The initial goal was to provide each student with his or her own textbook, especially in underdeveloped regions,” said Lee Yu-ri, vice representative of the KOICA office.
“This ongoing project is also one of the most effective ways to back the country’s long-term development and promote Korea’s reputation as well.”
Other key projects underway are the construction of an irrigation dam and canal, and agricultural training for local farmers in Vientiane Province’s Hinheup District.
“During my training sessions in Korea, I was deeply impressed with the Saemaeul movement which motivated the country’s development in the past,” said Khamsay Soumounthong, local provincial official.
“Though details may be different in Laos, I believe that we have much to learn from Korea’s history and the Saemaeul campaign.”
The KOICA also supplied cultivators and water pumps, as well as cows, with an aim to promote the local community’s economic independence.
“Laos has favorable agricultural conditions, with its rich water resources and high temperature, but has so far failed to produce satisfactory results due to the lack of a precipitation management system,” said Jo Young-jun.
Jo was dispatched by the Korea Rural Community Corporation, the KOICA’s project manager company for the dam construction plan.
“Once the dam and canal are completed, the local farmers will be able to raise two crops per year and thus double their income,” he said.
The system is to irrigate five of the surrounding villages but its influence is expected to expand to other parts of the province as well.
“In a common aim to maximize the effects of the dam, the provincial government office also cooperated in paving the surrounding roads, building bridges and cultivating the wasteland in the region,” Jo said.
“Such moves do not only facilitate our construction process but also promote the mutual relationship between the donor state and the recipient state.”
KOICA officials, however, stressed that the agency’s true driving force is not its huge governmental projects but its numerous overseas volunteers who move into the local society and accommodate their needs.
A total of 1,673 volunteers are currently serving two years at offices in 50 countries all over the world, among which 821 are in Asia and 68 in Laos, according to the KOICA.
“I do not know much about construction or agriculture, but realize that however little knowledge I have may be of great help to people here,” said Kim Sang-beom, a volunteer member working in the Vientiane provincial office.
By Bae Hyun-jung, Korea Herald correspondent
May 17th, 2012, 10:56 AM
NUOL faculty to hold job fair
The Faculty of Engineering at the National University of Laos will host a job fair on May 18, in a bid to help hundreds of graduates to find work.
This year, some 500 students will graduate from the faculty.
The faculty and the European Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Laos (ECCIL) are partnering for the event, which arose from the concern that the faculty has few connections to private industry.
The NUOL job fair will put graduates in touch with potential employers. This photo shows a company representative talking to students at a recent job fair held in Vientiane. --(File photo)
This is not the first time the faculty has organised such an event, but is the first time it has teamed up with the ECCIL.
ECCIL's Marketing and Event Management Director, Ms Flavia Usher, says most of the students believe their best employment options will be in administration, and are not even considering jobs in the private sector.
The job fair has been organised to provide students with contacts to major companies as well as some lesser known ones.
The ECCIL contacted the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry to encourage more companies to attend the fair. So far, 15 companies have agreed to participate.
“As there are more than 500 students attending the job fair, we obviously cannot create work for every student. That's why we have organised the programme so the students can hear human resource managers talk about their experiences with job seekers.
They can also get tips on what job seekers should look for, how to prepare for interviews, and what to say in interviews,” Ms Usher said.
There will also be a session to advise job seekers how to write a curriculum vitae and a cover letter. The organisers believe these tools will prepare students to enter the job market and will serve them well beyond this year's job fair.
Two panel discussions will run in the morning. One will be with human resource managers and another with former graduates who will talk about their experiences after leaving university and what to expect during the transition to the workplace.
The job fair's main aim is to help students find work after graduation and ensure that their skills develop and they can contribute to the growth of the economy.
By Souknilundon Southivongnorath
(Latest Update May 17, 2012)
May 18th, 2012, 08:12 AM
Korea builds social infrastructure in Laos (http://www.koreaherald.com/national/Detail.jsp?newsMLId=20120513000383)
13 May 2012 20:04
Shoes of Hope projects - Korean have donated 11500 pairs of shoes to Lao students
May 24th, 2012, 12:49 PM
Lao GDP growth to reach 8.3 pct this year: WB
(Shanghai Daily/Xinhua, May 24)
VIENTIANE, May 24 (Xinhua)-- Growing mining, construction, manufacturing and services sectors are expected to increase the growth rate of Lao GDP from 8 percent in 2011 to 8.3 percent this year, according to the World Bank's latest East Asia and Pacific Economic Update (EAP).
In contrast, the Asian Development Bank has forecast 7.8 percent growth for this year in its recent Asian Development Outlook 2012 report.
The World Bank had previously forecast GDP growth in Laos for 2012 at 7.5 percent, based on the serious impact of flooding in 2011, but revised estimates in its latest EAP released Wednesday.
Mining operations within Laos are set to expand over this year, and the climbing price of gold and copper should help increase revenue, the report said. Mining is a major industry in Laos, one of the least developed nations in the region.
Several major construction projects are being undertaken in the capital Vientiane in preparation for its upcoming hosting of the Asia-Europe Meeting in November. The airport is being expanded, 50 villas are being built for visiting heads of states and a major construction project is being initiated to redevelop a large strip of the Mekong River bank into a business and shopping district.
The manufacturing sector in Laos has been very limited, with most goods imported. Demand for concrete, construction materials, food and beverages and Lao-manufactured goods, is expected to grow. The EAP report has identified the services sector as another source of growth, with higher wholesale and trade volumes, growth in tourism, transport and telecommunications.
Lao agricultural output experienced a downturn in 2011 due to severe flooding and damage from tropical storms, but is expected to rebound this year, barring further environmental disasters. Headline inflation has trended lower from 7.9 percent (year-on- year) in November 2011 to 5.3 percent in March 2012, partly as a result of lower food and fuel costs.
Nevertheless, Lao medium to long-term growth remains uncertain due to ongoing uncertainty in commodity markets, the euro crisis and China's slowdown, the report said.
Overall, Laos is against the trend in the region, where GDP growth has slowed from 10 percent in 2010 to 8.2 percent last year. The region is still outperforming the developing country average world-wide by 2 percent, and poverty continues to decline.
June 21st, 2012, 11:19 AM
Laos hopes to launch satellite by 2015
A Chinese investor and the Lao government have inked a joint-venture agreement to develop a Lao satellite project, a minister has said.
A master agreement for the US$960 million project, signed last week, is 70 percent funded by the investor and 30 percent funded by the Lao government.
“We already signed the master agreement, and discussions on the details of project development will be our next step,” Minister of Post and Telecommunications Hiem Phommachanh told the Vientiane Times yesterday.
Mr Hiem said agreements on project development details, including commercialisation, are expected in the near future.
The government hopes to launch the satellite by 2015 to mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Lao People's Democratic Republic.
The Lao government owns the rights to one fully coordinated BSS Orbital Slot at the location 126 degrees east, where the project will be developed.
The US$960 million will also cover the construction cost of operation and research facilities. Vientiane will calculate the value of orbit ownership rights for its contribution to the share, Mr Hiem said. The project will provide 36 transponders for TV signals, which can provide services to many countries.
The Lao satellite project has been in the making for some time. Previously, Laos had joint-ventured with Thai investors to launch a satellite into this orbit, but the Thai investor's financial troubles led to its collapse. Later, the government inked a cooperation agreement with US investors but that too failed due to the same problem, Mr Hiem said.
He said Laos also plans to place a satellite in the 128.5 degree east orbit, and the government intends to ask Beijing for a loan to realise the US$258 million project.
The loan will be used to purchase the satellite and pay the launch costs. It will provide 22 transponders for both television and telephone signal transmission. The Lao government signed an agreement with a Chinese company in December to develop the 128.5 degree project. Director General of the ministry's Telecommunications Department, Mr Somlith Phouthonsy, told the Vientiane Times the agreement to secure the loan from China's Exim Bank to develop the project is expected t o be signed next month.
By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update June 21, 2012)
July 3rd, 2012, 12:03 PM
China to bring tourists to the top of the Golden Triangle area
Tuesday, 03 July 2012 12:21 Mizzima News
China is making a major push to upgrade the tourist infrastructure in the region where China touches Burma and Laos and the Mekong River flows south into the Golden Triangle. The latest venture is to attract 15.5 million tourists to Xishuangbanna, a mountainous tropical region.
The plan is to boost services annually that would attract the tourists, including 500,000 foreign tourists, by 2015, a local official told Xinhua news agency.
Lu Yonghe, the deputy head of Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture, which borders Burma and Laos to its south, said the government plans to make Xishuangbanna a major resort region in southwest China. Roads and express highways in the area are already modernized.
Xishuangbanna is part of a large tropical virgin forest that covers southwest China’s Yunnan Province and northern Burma and Laos. It is home to diverse plant and animal life including endangered Asian elephants, but tourist infrastructure is relatively poor in the region.
Still, more than 10 million domestic tourists and 290,000 foreign tourists visited Xishuangbanna in 2011.
In the next five years, plans call for establishing 10 top tourist destinations and to attract more than 10 globally recognized hotel chains, officials said.
Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture is located at the southern tip of Yunnan Province. It shares a boundary of 966 kilometers (619 miles) with Burma and Laos in the east, south and west, and is a gateway from China to Southeast Asia by land. It is the home of the Dai ethnic group and was known as "Mengbanaxi" in ancient times, a name that means a miraculous utopia, and is home to 12 other ethnic minorities.
Located in the south extension of the Hengduan Mountains, more than 95 per cent of its territory is mountainous and hilly. Jinghong City is the major southern city. The Lancang River runs through the prefecture and when it passes through Laos and Thailand it is called the Mekong River.
July 10th, 2012, 12:32 PM
^^ laos get $2billion in FDI
July 10th, 2012, 12:34 PM
^^ it says there will be dam in champasack, i think cambodia should buy that electricity
July 13th, 2012, 11:57 AM
First ASEAN-US Business forum to kick off to chart economic cooperation
(Shanghai Daily/Xinhua, July 13)
SIEM REAP, Cambodia, July 13 (Xinhua) -- The ASEAN-U.S. Business Forum that is to kick off Friday evening here attracted the largest ever number of American business executives to seek business opportunities in thes Southeast Asian countries.
The ASEAN-U.S. Business Forum will bring together hundreds of cabinet ministers and senior policymakers from the U.S. and ASEAN governments, as well as business leaders from the U.S. and ASEAN, to address the opportunities and challenges that will define the direction of future U.S.-ASEAN economic cooperation, said a joint press release from the organizers, the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Myanmar President Thein Sein, and Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra will attend the forum, said the press release.
August 9th, 2012, 11:25 AM
more cross border buses
August 31st, 2012, 12:42 PM
Laos, Cambodia set for more listings
August 31, 2012 1:00 am
Private companies and state enterprises are expected to raise large amounts of funds via the stock exchanges in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia over the next several years.
More private firms will list on the Cambodian and Laotian bourses next year, their executives told media yesterday at the "Thailand Focus 2012" conference in Bangkok.
Hong Sok Hour, chief executive officer of the Cambodia Securities Exchange, said yesterday that there was currently only one listed firm on the bourse, with market capitalisation of US$140 million (Bt4.4 billion), but five more were expected to list next year. Three of those firms are state enterprises - two port facilitators and one telecom.
He said one-third of investors trading shares in the local market were foreign.
Dethphouvang Moularat, chairman and CEO of the Lao Securities Exchange, said he expected one firm to list on the bourse next year, Lao Telecom Co, which is going to merge with Enterprise Telecommunications Lao. It will join two firms already listed.
He said Laotian investors preferred long-term plays. "They keep shares to store their wealth to be handed down to their children."
Such behaviour has made the market less liquid, he said. However, the authorities do not want many local people to trade shares because of high risks.
"We want them to learn first - let foreign investors engage in financial games," he said.
Meanwhile, Stock Exchange of Thailand president Charamporn Jotikasthira said CK Power Co, a unit of Ch Karnchang Group that is registered in Laos to oversee projects there, was expected to list on the SET in the fourth quarter of this year.
Overseas-listed holding companies will be allowed to list on the SET from tomorrow onwards, as a mechanism to promote overseas investment of Thai companies ahead of the activation of the Asean Economic Community.
Charamporn said listing firms were also expected to raise more funds to expand their businesses in the country and abroad.
Aphinant Klewpantinond, CEO of Phatra Securities, said fund-raising could be done via other channels such as infrastructure funds, rather than equity trading.
Le Hai Tra, deputy CEO of Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, said it had signed a letter of intent to join Asean's stock-market linkage platform.
Tran Van Dzung, CEO of Hanoi Stock Exchange, said the two Vietnamese bourses were in the process of merging into a single entity.
September 19th, 2012, 11:54 AM
Google today announced it has added its 65th language to Google translate:
Lao. A quick check shows the new language (currently in alpha) is indeed available on the new service, although it’s not yet offered in Google Chrome’s built-in translation feature.
Google took the opportunity today to emphasize its Translate team is “constantly working to improve automatic translations,” including collecting new data, tweaking algorithms, and improving the grammaticality of translations. This is for languages available since day one, all the way up to languages that have yet to be added because they don’t meet the search giant’s “launch standards.”
Obviously Lao has met Google’s expectations, otherwise it wouldn’t be available now (see the screenshot above). Nevertheless, the company says “translation quality is at the lower end compared to that of other languages we offer” and that the Lao option will fail in situations “where more precise translations are needed.”
If you know Lao, the company is thus asking for your help. You can contribute in two ways: provide alternate translations by clicking on words or phrases of the translated sentence and use the Google Translator Toolkit to upload translations.
If you don’t know anything about the Lao language, here’s a short excerpt from Wikipedia: “Lao or Laotian is a tonal language of the Tai–Kadai language family. It is the official language of Laos, and also spoken in the northeast of Thailand, where it is usually referred to as the Isan language.”
September 19th, 2012, 11:56 AM
wheres khmer on google translate?
September 25th, 2012, 01:55 PM
Vientiane motorists unhappy with parking fee hike
Car owners in Vientiane are unhappy about the prices they are being charged to use public parking areas, as these areas have been created using money the government has collected from taxes.
A row of parking spaces on Setthathirath Road in front of Nam Phou Fountain is one area in particular that the authorities have received complaints about, after motorists found themselves being charged 10,000 kip to park there. Before the fountain and square reopened last month after being renovated, the parking fee was only 3,000 kip.
The parking area at Namphou fountain in central Vientiane.
Mr Oubkeo Luangphaxay, a representative of Asia Investment and Financial Service, which invested in the renovation, said the parking fee was raised by the company for the benefit of motorists.
“We're charging 10,000 kip because we want people to feel confident that their vehicles are safe when they're parked here.”
Ms Amone Thapdavong, a Vientiane resident who used to park in this area, told the Vientiane Times on Friday she was shocked when she found out the parking fee had risen so drastically and she would warn others about it. “I will tell my friends not to park here because it is quite expensive.”
An official from the Vientiane Urban Development Administration Authority (VUDAA), Mr Bouala Chanthavixay, told Vientiane Times on Friday that there are 18 public parking areas in Vientiane and although not all come under VUDAA, the Namphou parking does.
But he explained that the authority had handed over the operating responsibilities to the Mix Restaurant and Bar, which has recently opened at Nam Phou and is owned by Asia Investment and Financial Service, who were in charge of the redevelopment of the square.
Mr Bouala said all the public parking areas under VUDAA are operated by private individuals.
“We give these parking areas over to private companies to operate because we get more money than if we use VUDAA parking attendants.”
He also said that normally it costs 3,000 to 5,000 kip for public parking, depending on the area, and admitted that 10,000 kip was excessive.
The VUDAA authorities will soon be meeting with the staff of Asia Investment and Financial Service to resolve the matter.
By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update September 24, 2012)
September 26th, 2012, 12:09 PM
Soochow University to build a campus in Vientiane
Soochow University in Laos has signed a concession agreement for 23 hectares of land in Vientiane, which will be the site of its campus in the capital.
Director of Vientiane Planning and Investment Department, Mr Vixay Xavanna, and Vice President of Soochow University in Laos, Mr Wang Jiexian, exchange documents after signing a land concession agreement.
According to information provided by the school, the deal they have concluded with Vientiane authorities involves a 50 year concession at a rate of US$500 per hectare per year for a period of 50 years, with an option to extend the deal for another 25 years if they wish.
Up until now, Soochow has been using the campus facilities at Kavin College, but the new agreement will allow them to build their own facilities in Vientiane. The campus will be built in Xiengda village, Xaysettha district, and is expected to cost more than US$24.3 million to construct.
Soochow University will finance the payment of compensation to people who will have to relocate to make way for the campus, with the compensation process to be overseen by Vientiane authorities.
Soochow University is based in Suzhou in southern China. It commenced educational cooperation with Laos in 2007 and since then has been laying the groundwork for the opening of its own campus, which is now coming to fruition.
In 2010, Soochow University obtained the approval of the Lao government to provide undergraduate and graduate education in the country, becoming the first foreign institute of higher education to gain such approval in the country.
Vice President of Soochow University in Laos, Mr Wang Jiexian, said at the signing ceremony that the university will offer another choice in education and help further development in Laos.
He said the campus will extend over 23 hectares, and revealed that the university has entered into an agreement with a Suzhou-based company for the construction of the facility.
Soochow is one of the major universities in Jiangsu province and has 20 colleges covering 11 disciplines. Soochow has a student population of over 50,000, including over 1,300 international students from 37 different countries.
Starting a school outside China is an important strategy for Soochow University to develop into a world-renowned university.
Initially it is planned to send Chinese lecturers to teach at the campus, but over time the management will increase the intake of local teachers and hire more local staff.
The opening of the Soochow campus in Vientiane will further strengthen the friendly relations and cooperation between Laos and China, Mr Wang said, especially in the field of education.
The Lao Soochow campus offers various majors including Chinese language and literature, engineering and economy and trade, with its student population continuing to grow.
By Khonesavanh Latsaphao
(Latest Update September 25, 2012)
October 2nd, 2012, 01:35 PM
New Bangkok bus lines to Laos
Published: 1/10/2012 at 06:25 PM Online news:
The state-run Transport Co Ltd will offer direct coach services between Bangkok and Vientiane and Bangkok to Pakse in Laos under a policy to boost transport networks with neighbouring countries.
Each destination will have one service a day using standard airconditioned buses and the one-way fare for both routes is 900 baht. The route from Bangkok to Vientiane will take 11 hours, leaving Bangkok at 8pm while the bus for Pakse leaves at 9pm and will take 13 hours.
Wuthichart Kalayanamit, president of Transport Co, said the two routes are an extension of two other routes while it has another seven routes running between Thailand and Laos such as Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang and Khon Kaen to Vientiane.
There are currently around 20,000 passengers travelling on the existing routes a year but the company expects 200,000 a year using intra-country service if there are more connections with other neighbouring countries. It plans two more routes to Cambodia this year 2012 and one to Myanmar in early 2013.
December 1st, 2012, 09:57 AM
Coca-Cola to Begin Bottling Operations in Laos
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By BEN OTTO
JAKARTA—Coca-Cola Co. KO -0.13% plans to begin bottling its products in Laos by 2014, moving in on Southeast Asia's smallest economy, where rival PepsiCo Inc. PEP -0.14% has deep distribution lines.
While Coca-Cola's beverages have long been available in Laos through third-party distributors, the Atlanta-headquartered beverage giant plans to build its first bottling facility in the country as part of a drive to deepen its presence across Southeast Asia. The move comes amid signs of slowing sales in China, its once-reliable growth engine, and as the company expands elsewhere in Asia.
Coke is planning bottling and distributions operations in Laos, which has seen high growth over the past decade and was recently admitted into the World Trade Organization.
ThaiNamthip Ltd.—Coca-Cola's bottling partner in Thailand in which it has a stake—said Thursday it will invest $40 million over the next five years with Laos-based PT Construction Co. to establish bottling and distribution operations in the country.
The new joint venture, Lao Coca-Cola Bottling Co., will distribute Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Minute Maid and Namthip drinking water, ThaiNamthip said in a statement. It said it started distributing Coca-Cola products supplied by ThaiNamthip's plants in Thailand on Thursday.
The move comes a month after the World Trade Organization voted to approve Laos's entry into the trade body, and after the nation hosted its largest-ever summit of world leaders in the capital, Vientiane. Laos has been growing at 7% annually over the last decade, largely fueled by growth in the hydropower and mining sectors, and many foreign investors already in the country are expanding.
ThaiNamthip didn't provide further details on the joint venture, but Coca-Cola Pacific's communications director, Sharolyn Choy, said the investment will be spent over five years and the plant will be built in Vientiane province.
"With Laos getting into the WTO and integrating with the regional economy, it just makes sense for us to move in," Ms. Choy said
Members of the Association of Southeast Asian nations are three years away from forming the Asean Economic Community, a trading bloc with around 10% of the world's population. Asean had a combined GDP of more than $2 trillion in 2011.
Ms. Choy declined to comment on sales targets in Laos, but said Coca-Cola's distribution will increase after the plant starts operations.
The joint venture in Laos follows Coca-Cola's expansion elsewhere in Southeast Asia. In October, Coca-Cola said it planned to invest about $300 million over the next three years in Vietnam. It recently began distributing its products in Myanmar after a hiatus of more than 60 years, and said it is committed to building a bottling plant in Myanmar, but didn't provide a time frame.
Ms. Choy said the plant in Laos will employ about 70 people, but declined to say when construction could begin or comment on production capacity.
The new facility, which is scheduled to begin operations in 2014, positions Coca-Cola to wage a cola war with New York-based PepsiCo, which has been operating in the country in partnership with a Laotian beverage maker and distributor.
ThaiNamthip will own 70% of the Lao Coca-Cola Bottling venture, with its local partner holding the rest.
Coca-Cola has an undisclosed stake in ThaiNamthip, an unlisted Bangkok-based company that was founded in 1959. The company has six bottling plants and distributes products in 63 provinces in Thailand. Coca-Cola's other Thai bottler, Haad Thip, has a single plant and distributes Coca-Cola products in 14 provinces.
Laos-based PT Construction Co. specializes in hydropower and infrastructure development. The company is involved in the construction of the 1,285-megawatt Xayaburi dam, which will be the largest in Laos when completed in 2018.
December 21st, 2012, 04:33 AM
Laos has NO NGO - ONLY Foreign NGO and Lao Non-Government Developers who follow the direction of the Lao People Revolutionary Party are allowed to exist
December 24th, 2012, 06:01 AM
New television station to be launched
The Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism's Department of Mass Media has entered into an agreement with TV Lao to create a new station that will broadcast sport and arts programmes.
The joint agreement was signed in Vientiane yesterday by the Director General of the Mass Media Department, Mr Pinpatthana Phanthamaly, and the President and CEO of TV Lao, Mr Hongkham Souvannavong.
Mr Pinpatthana Phanthamaly ( left ) and Mr Hongkham Souvannavong co-sign the document to create the new television station.
Also present at the signing ceremony were Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Prof. Dr Bosengkham Vongdara, Deputy Minister of Education and Sports Mr Boualane Silipanya, media and other invited guests.
The television station comprises a five storey building, a single storey building and studios. It is located in Phonphanao village in Xaysettha district, Vientiane, and cost 16 billion kip to build.
TV Lao is privately owned. Under the agreement, the station will be responsible for broadcasting programmes on domestic and overseas cultural activities and sports.
The television station will also provide long-distance learning programmes and disseminate government policies and laws, especially in relation to the national socio-economic development plan.
TV Lao will also produce programmes on politics, news, travel, food, health, music, marketing shows, business discussions, the stock market, IT and automobiles.
The ministry will be responsible for each programme's content.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr Hongkham said the aim of the new television station is to produce interesting programmes and disseminate information to audiences. This will be carried out in cooperation with ministries and other involved sectors.
Mr Hongkham said the new station is expected to produce programmes by February 2013 once it has established a satellite link with THAICOM 5 and the station is able to record programmes.
“We are thinking out of the box when it comes to creative and innovative solutions. We will use the best production and broadcasting equipment,” said Mr Hongkham.
He noted that TV Lao is one of the biggest production houses in Laos. It has been broadcasting on LNTV Ch. 3 since 2011 through the THAICOM 5 satellite, and programmes can be viewed in more than 25 countries.
TV Lao employs experienced Lao staff and professional foreign technical advisors. Most of the staff have long-term experience in the industry. Over 30 people are currently employed and the station plans to employ more as needed.
By Phaisythong Chandara
(Latest Update December 20, 2012)
January 21st, 2013, 06:55 AM
Thailand, Laos agree on mobile signals along border
Negotiations between Thailand and Laos on mobile signals along the border have recently concluded. The two countries agreed that mobile operator signals will not reach further than one kilometre inside populated border areas and no more than two kilometres in other areas, the Bangkok Post reports citing the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). With the move, the countries hope to prevent that users in one country are automatically switched to an operator in the other country with a stronger signal and being charged roaming fees. Thailand has a similar agreement with Malaysia to limit the signal coverage along their border.http://www.telecompaper.com/news/thailand-laos-agree-on-mobile-signals-along-border--919759
March 22nd, 2013, 12:20 PM
Visiting Little Laos on the Prairie: An Interview with Chanida Phaengdara Potter
When you're looking for the online voice of the Lao American community, you don't often see many of us regularly writing, considering there are over 200,000 Lao in the United States.
One exception to that is the blog Little Laos on the Prairie, whose entries often appear here on the Twin Cities Daily Planet. Established by Lao Minnesotans Chanida Phaengdara Potter and Danny Khotsombath, they've been steadily breaking new ground, particularly focusing on the Lao Minnesotan community to help readers see how a vibrant regional voice can emerge. I think that's important because Lao culture flourishes with the diversity of our voices.Read more (http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/blog/kkouanchao/visiting-little-laos-prairie-interview-chanida-phaengdara)
April 8th, 2013, 02:08 PM
Satellite project on track to launch in 2015
A senior government official confirmed on Friday that the Lao satellite project is on track for launching in 2015, the year when Laos celebrates its 40th anniversary.
The government and the China-based Chengdu Linhai Electronics Company Ltd. established a joint company – the Lao-Linhai International Satellite Telecommunication Company - in December last year to carry out the project.
“Project officials are in the process of purchasing the satellite,” said a government official, who asked not to be named.
“Officials in charge are also detailing framework activities to carry out the project in the expectation of launching the satellite in 2015 to mark the 40th Lao National Day.”
The Chinese company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Lao government early last year to cooperate on the construction of a satellite communications park in Laos.
The investor will spend US$960 million to develop the project with a satellite set to operate for commercial purposes in the 126 degrees East orbital slot, which is owned by Laos.
Laos will hold a 30 percent share in the project with the other 70 percent to be owned by the Chengdu Linhai Electronics Company.
Under the MOU, the Chinese company and the Lao government will jointly build a factory that will manufacture satellite equipment and various electronic communications components. They will also set up the Institute for Science Educational Research and Technology Aerospace to train the highly skilled personnel required for the project.
Minister of Post and Telecommunications Hiem Phommachanh told the Vientiane Times previously that the satellite will provide 36 transponders for TV signals and enable transmission to many countries.
Last year, Linhai Group Chairman Dr Wu Weilin led a delegation to Laos on a working visit when he paid a courtesy visit to Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong as part of the group's effort to push forward the satellite development project.
Dr Wu pledged to speed up the satellite development project after getting the green light from the government in early 2012.
Once Laos has its own satellite, it will be easier to further develop its telecommunications industry, since it will not be dependent on subscribing to satellite services from foreign countries like Thailand and China.
Laos has been working towards putting a satellite into orbit at the 126 degrees East location for a long time.
A previous joint venture with a Thai investor to put a satellite into orbit at the same location failed when the Thai party ran into financial difficulties.
Later, the government inked a cooperation agreement with an investor from the United States but that also failed for the same reason, according to Mr Hiem.
The Chengdu Linhai Electronics Company is one of the largest commercial enterprises in China. It provides communications services, short-wave communications, satellite communications, network communications, software radios, GPS navigation equipment, high-speed digital signal processing software, and other advanced communication systems.
The company also offers enterprise solutions, which include designing, implementing, and managing integrated communications networks for businesses and government bodies, and designing and delivering fully-integrated broadband communication solutions.
By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
(Latest Update April 08, 2013)