China ranks among the top three countries investing in Laos and the number of its investments in various areas continues to rise.
The total value of Chinese investment last year amounted to almost US$4 billion, the Chinese Ambassador to Laos, Ms Bu Jianguo, reported at a meeting in Vientiane yesterday between the Lao government and Chinese business interests.
“From January to November last year, the value of bilateral trade between the two countries reached about US$1.5 billion, an increase of about 34 percent over the same period the previous year,” she said.
“Chinese products exported to Laos reached a value of US$838 million, an increase of about 108 percent over 2011, while the value of Chinese imports from Laos was US$728 million, a decrease from 2011 of about 4.9 percent,” said Ms Bu Jianguo.
Significant investment and assistance projects in Laos made by the Chinese government last year included the National Meeting Hall phase I, the rural electricity installation project in the north of Laos, the Wattay International Airport expansion, ASEM Villas, the Nam Ngum 5 hydropower plant, and the mining research and diagnosis centre.
Other important projects currently underway are the Lao Satellite, the Mekong Bridge in Pakbaeng district in Oudomxay province, the Nam Ou 2, 5 and 6 hydropower plants, That Luang specific economic development zone, and the Vientiane International Trade and Tourism Centre.
Many Chinese enterprises contributed cash and equipment to support important national events such as the Asia-Europe Meeting Summit (ASEM 9), the 16th Asean University Games, construction of schools and roads, and disaster assistance.
“These investments boost economic cooperation between the two countries every year,” Ms Bu Jianguo said.
“We have noted that investment in Laos is expanding, and Chinese investment especially so,” said Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Bounthavy Sisouphanthong.
“The cost of these projects and the value of these investments are substantially higher as investors have confidence in the Lao economy, which is showing solid, sustainable expansion.”
“Chinese investment, both direct and indirect, has made significant contributions to our socio-economic development and has created many job opportunities for Lao people allowing them to earn better incomes to assist in achieving the government’s targe ts,” he added.
The Lao government has acknowledged the importance of investment in the private sector, including investment from foreign sources.
From 2011 to 2015, the government expects general investment to comprise about 32 percent of GDP, around US$15 billion, and that private foreign investment should contribute about 56 percent of all private sector investment within the country.
In this 5-year period the government hopes to see investment reach about US$1.7 billion a year or US$8.5 billion over the whole period.
“This figure will not be easy for the Lao government to reach,” Dr Bounthavy said.
He noted that the government is focused on sustainable development because it is necessary for socio-economic development with environmental protection.
“To reach socio-economic development and poverty reduction targets whilst ensuring environmental protection, we have to focus on quality investments,” he added.
Source: Vientiane Times
January 23, 2013
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