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Laos-Vietnam road link fails to meet schedule

News Desk
Vientiane Times
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.

6,226 Posts
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.

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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.

6,226 Posts
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)

6,226 Posts
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.


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.


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."

26,745 Posts
Closed Proximity with Mainland China and Thailand with much better relationship with both countries helps Laos to function as a land bridge a lot ...

6,226 Posts

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.

6,226 Posts
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

5,405 Posts


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)

5,405 Posts

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.

6,226 Posts
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

6,226 Posts
Korea builds social infrastructure in Laos
2012-05-13 20:04

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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
([email protected])

6,226 Posts
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)

6,226 Posts
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.

6,226 Posts
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)

6,226 Posts
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.

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