Lao and Thai business operators met in Vientiane yesterday to discuss their common business outlook before the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) comes into effect in 2015.

The meeting, titled Laos-Thai Outlook 2015, was the first of its kind between the business sectors of the two countries and aimed to create a stronger relationship and deeper understanding between business operators.

Discussions provided an opportunity for local and national businesspeople from Laos and Thai to gain a better understanding of the policies of their governments as they prepare for the AEC.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Mr Bounthavy Sisouphanthong said that over the next two years businesses will aim to develop so they are prepared to compete.

Participating in the AEC will be a challenge for Laos but the country’s businesses will strive for growth to boost the country’s overall economy, in cooperation with other sectors.

From 2000 to 2013, Thailand has ranked in third place in terms of investment value in Laos behind China and Vietnam. The total amount invested by these three countries in Laos now stands at over US$10 billion.

Most Thai investors are operating in the fields of mining and electricity generation in projects such as Xayaboury Hydro Electric Power and the Hongsa lignite plant in northern Laos. There is little investment in agriculture because Thailand is already one of the world’s top agricultural producers.

There are more than 200 projects involving mining in Laos, with a total investment value of US$6 trillion.

As well as gearing up for the AEC, Laos is also striving to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals.

To be successful Laos will need to spend US$15 billion, which is being sourced from the government, grant assistance and banks, but 50 or 60 percent of this amount will need to come from grant aid from private and international donors, Mr Bounthavy said.

To achieve these goals, the Party and state are carrying out the Resolution passed by the 9th Party Congress and working towards the goals of the seventh National Socio-economic Development Plan.

The main focus of their work is to reduce poverty. The number of poor families has now fallen to 13 percent and the target of 10 percent is expected to be reached in 2015.

Gross Domestic Product growth currently stands at 8.1 percent.

Source: Vientiane Times
May 27, 2013