Mekong Memo Laos Weekly: Business, politics, finance, trade & legal news.
Get the latest Southeast Asian business news delivered to your inbox every weekday with the Mekong Memo.
Choose to receive our free daily editions covering Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand individually or together: account settings.
The Memo is published each weekday for the country of your choice. Paid subscriptions receive full editions while free subscribers get top headlines.
Support us and unlock unlimited access by becoming a paid subscriber today to stay informed on emerging opportunities in Southeast Asia.
The Mekong Memo is proudly presented by:
Horton International offers reliable, effective solutions to recruiting and resourcing challenges for a diverse range of organizations, from small, privately held start-ups to leading Global corporations. With offices and experience throughout Southeast Asia, Horton International is your first choice for executive search in the region.
Click here to learn more.
Here is your Mekong Memo Laos for the week of January 10, 2024. Click on the link of our sponsor above, pay for a subscription, share with a friend or hit that reply button and tell us what you think.
Prime Minister Visits Vietnam
Lao Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone's official visit to Vietnam, accompanied by his spouse, was a welcome signal reinforcing the deep-rooted friendship and cooperation between the two nations. The visit included co-chairing the 46th session of the Vietnam-Laos Intergovernment Committee. During the visit, the leaders of both countries laid out plans to increase bilateral trade in the coming year. This visit also saw the signing of four cooperation documents.
The visit was not just about formal meetings; it included cultural exchanges and visits to historical landmarks. The Lao Prime Minister's engagement with Vietnamese leaders, including State President Vo Van Thuong and National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue, achieved a reinforcement of the nature of the relationship, encompassing political, economic, and cultural spheres.
The visit concluded with a reaffirmation of Vietnam's support for Laos in its role as the ASEAN chair in 2024 and sets a positive tone for future collaborations.
Summary of talks by sector:
Economic and Trade Cooperation: Both countries expressed a strong commitment to improving economic ties, with a specific focus on increasing bilateral trade turnover. In 2023, the trade turnover between Vietnam and Laos was approximately $1.6 billion, and they have set a goal to increase this by 10-15% in 2024. This commitment was highlighted during the 46th meeting of the Vietnam-Laos Inter-Governmental Committee. (Source: Vietnam News)
Investment: The visit included discussions on enhancing investment cooperation. Vietnam has numerous ongoing projects in Laos, and both countries are keen on creating favorable conditions for further investments. As of 2023, Vietnam’s investment in Laos reached $116.6 million, an increase of ~4% from the previous year. (Source: Vietnam News)
Energy and Infrastructure: Cooperation in electricity purchase and sale was a hot topic. Vietnam has been investing in hydroelectric plants in Laos and importing electricity, which is seen as crucial if Vietnam is to achieve its development goals. Additionally, infrastructure projects like the Vung Ang-Vientiane railway and Hanoi-Vientiane expressway were discussed. (Source: VOV)
Education and Cultural Exchange: The two countries agreed to continue their cooperation in education and cultural exchanges in order to strengthen ties. Vietnam pledged to offer scholarships to Lao officials and students and to send teachers to teach the Vietnamese language in Laos. (Source: VOV)
Legislative and Political Cooperation: There were discussions about the cooperation between the National Assemblies of both countries, including the sharing of experiences in law-making and constitutional amendments. This indicates a new, deeper level of political and legislative cooperation. (Source: Vietnam News)
Read more (mostly the same sources as above in “summary by sector”): VietnamPlus (Friendship and Cooperation), VietnamPlus (Economic Independence), VietnamPlus (Renewal and Development Support), Vietnam News (Trade Increase), Vietnam News (Legislative Meeting), BNN Breaking(Strengthening Bonds), VOV (NA Vice Chairmen Talks), VOV (Top Legislator Meeting), VOV (Document Compilation), VOV (2024 Cooperation Plans), VietnamPlus (Conclusion of Visit)
Golden Triangle SEZ Eyes Legal Reinforcement
In a move to improve legal oversight, officials from the Supreme People’s Prosecutor's Office discussed establishing a People’s Prosecutor’s Office in the Golden Triangle SEZ (Special Economic Zone), Bokeo Province. This initiative, on the occasion of the 34th anniversary of the Supreme Prosecutor's Office, is intended to address legal disputes, criminal cases, and ensure security for businesses and residents in the zone. The proposal is thought to be necessary to support Lao efforts to align SEZ operations with legal frameworks, and comes as international scrutiny over human trafficking and fraudulent activities in the region intensifies. The broader goal is to create a robust legal environment, promoting sustainable economic growth while safeguarding individual well-being.
Read more: Laotian Times
SEZs Net Impressive Half Billion USD
In 2023, Lao Special Economic Zones (SEZs) attracted more than $520 million in investments, with 178 companies participating. The investments were distributed across sectors: 127 in services, 18 in industrial, 30 in trade, and three in agriculture. These SEZs housed over 2,645 shops and enterprises, contributing approximately $7 million in annual revenue to the government and employing 3,644 workers, including 72 foreigners. The year also saw increased import and export activity within these zones, totaling around $1.7 billion in imports and $302 million in exports. A government-private sector meeting has been convened to address the need to boost private investment and tackle macroeconomic challenges.
Read more: The Star
The remainder of this post is for paid subscribers only, but remember, you can get a month of The Mekong Memo for FREE by sharing it with only three others: