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http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2010/04/14/0301000000AEN20100414010400315.HTMLSEOUL, 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.
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://www.pna.gov.ph/index.php?idn=4&sid=&nid=4&rid=271098HANOI, 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.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=493444VIENTIANE, 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.namnewsnetwork.org/v2/read.php?id=118583VIENTIANE, 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.asianewsnet.net/home/news.php?id=11715Laos 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://namnewsnetwork.org/v2/read.php?id=120618VIENTIANE, 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=122053KUALA 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.