Thai firms eye increased investment in Laos

                              Date: 30.06.2016
                              Source: Vientianetimes
                              More Thai businesspeople are interested in expanding their investments and seeking further trading opportunities in Laos, a meeting in Vientiane heard this week. Some 30 Thai businessp e ople met with Lao counterparts at ITECC Mall in the capital on Tuesday ahead of the Thai Top Brands Exhibition from June 29-July 3. The meeting aimed to create business opportunities between the two neighbouring countries by building networks, exchanging trade and seeking potential business partners.

The meeting heard from the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry that foreign companies had begun moving their production bases from Thailand to Laos as its labour costs were lower than Thailand. Laos’ numerous advantages for international investors were also outlined at the seminar. Laos has 11 Special Economic Zone (SEZ) being developed with the four of Savan-Seno, Vientiane Industrial and Trade Area, Saysettha Development Zone, and Champassak (Pakxe-Japan SME) intended specifically as industrial estate developments.

These would form an important part of Laos’ industrial development strategy with links to neighbouring countries, particularly Thailand, to be prioritised. This should help Thai investors in their decision making processes whether to invest in and trade with Laos. According to a report by the Lao Ministry of Planning and Investment, Laos’ exports this year were expected to reach approximately US$2.1 billion.

 A large amount of those goods were destined to travel to Thailand or though Thai ports to consumers overseas. Thailand and Laos had agreed to double their bilateral trade to US$8 billion by last year, up from a figure of US$4 billion in 2011. As of 2012 trade between the two countries was worth US$4.82 billion, up 23.82 percent from the previous year. Thailand is Laos’ top trading partner and a lifeline for vital imports such as finished oil, vehicles, machinery and steel.

Likewise Laos exports a large amount of scrap metal, processed wood, fruit and vegetables to Thailand. Department of International Trade Promotion of the Thailand Ministry of Commerce reported from 2008 to 2013 there were 290 Thai companies registered in Vientiane, and 145 companies registered in the provinces of Laos. In 2014, Laos’ Gross Domestic Product per capital amongst Asean member states was US$1,730, according to the Asean Secretariat website.