The German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ) has agreed to support a capacity building project for officials working to manage and develop specific and special economic zones (SEZs) in Laos.

A cooperation agreement was reached between the Secretariat of the Lao National Committee for Special Economic Zones (S-NCSEZ) and GIZ, formalised at a signing ceremony in Vientiane on Friday.

Under the technical cooperation agreement, GIZ will help to strengthen the capacity of officials working for the secretariat in developing, managing and administering special economic zones in a more transparent and accountable manner.

This GIZ technical assistance project comes under its Human Resource Development for Market Economy III (GIZ-HRDME III) programme, which is a Lao-German bilateral cooperation effort with Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration in Asia, the German supported regional programme.

It aims to contribute to seven key areas including strengthening regulatory frameworks, investment promotion, capacity building, joint elaboration of a business strategy for one selected SEZ, improving management and administration of SEZs via IT networking systems, as well as contributing to vocational training in the areas required by SEZ businesses.

Deputy Minister and Vice President of the Lao National Committee for Special Economic Zones (NCSEZ) and Head of the Secretariat of the NCSEZ Ms Bouatha Khattiya represented the Lao side to sign the agreement with GIZ Country Director Dr Petra Mutlu.

Minister to the Government Office and Vice President of the NCSEZ Ms Bounpheng Mounphosay and officials from relevant line ministries as well as GIZ experts were also present at the event.

After the signing ceremony, the NCSEZ Secretariat and GIZ jointly organised a technical workshop to develop a detailed work plan in order to start implementing the planned activities.

The workshop was co-chaired by HRDME III Programme Director Mr Armin Hofmann and Deputy Director General of the Secretariat Dr Kheungkham Keonouchanh.

Special Economic Zones are a form of attracting investment, creating jobs, and driving economic growth by offering tax and duty incentives to businesses which set up there. The role of these zones is to promote infrastructure development, services, production, skill development and the transfer of modern technology.

The Lao government regards the development of SEZs as a significant driver of the country’s economy to enable Laos to graduate from the list of least developed countries by 2020.

Currently there are 10 SEZs in Laos. The government also plans to create SEZ development models in some of the existing zones so that other zones can follow suit.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update April 1, 2013)