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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        12  March 2011

Lao border zones clear path for investors

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Economic zones on each side of the Lao Bao border checkpoint between Vietnam and Laos are offering incentives to investors and businesses.

The areas included, in Viet Nam, the Lao Bao Special Economic and Commercial Zone of central Quang Tri Province and, in Laos, the Densavan Border Trade Zone.

Deputy Governor of Laos's Savannakhet Province Suphan Keomisay told an investment conference in Quang Tri Province on Thursday that preferential treatment policies were in place in both areas. The policies related to training, employment, traffic infrastructure and tax reduction and exemption for the two zones, Suphan Keomisay said.

The Densavan Zone, in Savannakhet Province, was now home to 30 domestic and foreign-invested projects totalling more than 106 trillion Lao kip (US$10.6 billion).

Meanwhile, Lao Bao Zone in Quang Tri Province had already attracted 50 projects with a total registered capital of VND4 trillion (US$190 million). Five were foreign-invested, worth $31 million.

"The results are satisfactory after 11 years of the zone's establishment, especially in light of the global crisis," Quang Tri Economic Zones Management Board deputy head Nguyen Van Binh said. "The zone is now considered a driving economic force in Quang Tri province," he said, adding that it had also taken advantage of the East-West Economic Corridor.

It currently makes up 40 per cent of the province's industrial production value and contributes 30 per cent to the provincial State budget.

Last year, the zone posted VND340 billion ($16 million) in trade value, up 10 per cent over the previous year.

"The zone's investment attraction would likely prosper this year as we would soon grant licences to five new projects in wood processing, agricultural products and clothing," Binh said. He suggested the government maintain consistent policies for the zone and more financial support for infrastructure upgrades and better facilitate the co-operation between enterprises in Lao Bao and the neighbouring Densavan zones.

The Lao Bao zone was set to contribute about 28 percent to province's total production value and 35 per cent to its total foreign trade turnover by 2015, Binh said.

The zone was expected to expand from 15,800ha to 18,200ha over the next 15 years, under an overall development plan which had been submitted to the Prime Minister for approval, he said. Its priority would now be to improve infrastructure, train human resources and boost co-operation and communication linkages with other countries in the region, especially Laos and Thailand.

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