ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Lao, Malaysian young business generation come together
Nearly 50 young entrepreneurs from the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Laos and the Entrepreneurs' Organisation of Malaysia discussed the “Investment Opportunity in Laos” project.
The Malaysian businesses represented included the automotive industry, construction, electrical appliances, mining, property, banking, food and grocery.
The meeting was chaired by Valy Vetsaphong, president of the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Laos, with opening remarks delivered by Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce, Khemmani Pholsena, and Malaysian Ambassador to Laos Than Tai Hing.
Khemmani briefed participants on economic growth and business opportunities in Laos.
The government is creating linkages in the country to the region through the east-west and northern economic corridors.
“It will advance land transportation within Asean, especially the inland countries, and facilitate access to people and commodities in Asean and its partner countries,” she said.
The minister of industry and commerce recently launched a Lao trade website to provide investment and business information including legislation information and import-export procedures.
“We are also aiming at creating “The Ease of Doing Business in Laos”,” Khemmani said.
“Our new investment promotion and enterprise laws provide uncomplicated procedures for gaining investment approval.”
Khemmani also explained about the different investment categories in Laos, especially in the special economic zones that the country recently established with beneficial policies for investors.
Laos is integrating into both global and regional trade. “Asean is our main import and export market and it is also our first and only free trade agreement. We are committed to becoming an Asean Economic Community in 2015.”
At the global level, Laos is making good progress in the WTO induction process.
“We are hopeful that our admission can be completed by the end of this year.”
“As a least developed country, we are receiving the benefit of a Generalised System of Preference from more than 35 countries, including the European Union,” she added.
Khemmani said the macroeconomic development of Laos remains sustainable, in which the GDP growth rate is at an average of above 7 per cent and is projected to grow above 8 per cent in 2012.
“The political situation is stable and the government is in the process of improving the business environment,” she added.
Khemmani said the seventh national socio-economic development plan is targeted to secure investment capital of about 127,000 billion kip (US$15 billion) to boost the economy during the next five years, 50 per cent of which is expected to come from foreign investment.
Malaysian Ambassador Dato Than Tai Hing said: “The continual growth of Laos reflects well on the good policies of the Lao government.”
“Lower incomes are being raised, as well as the incomes of government officials, leading to greater affordability and better governance.”
He told Malaysian business operators, “Laos is on the right track for growth and there are many opportunities here. I see a bright future for the country, especially in the next few years, so businesses should grasp the opportunities that exist and not wait too long.”
“Laos is currently a hotspot for international investment in the region,” he added.
The ambassador stressed that one of the high potential sectors to be mutually developed is tourism, which has recently been promoted between the countries with good results.
“AirAsia has operated a direct flight between Vientiane and Kuala Lumpur since 2007 and having seen this growth is expecting to open daily direct flights in October.”
During the meeting, the Malaysian entrepreneurs heard about the Lao investment policy from the Investment Promotion Department, ministry of planning and investment, and discussed this with their Lao counterparts.
According to statistics from the ministry of industry and commerce, in the fiscal year 2010/2011 bilateral trade performance between Laos and Malaysia reached $7.5 million, an increase of almost 200 per cent.
For investment up to the end of 2011, Malaysia has invested in 95 projects with approved investment capital of $412 million. Malaysia is among the top 10 foreign investors in Laos.
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