Chinese keen to invest in Champassak's Khonphapheng SEZ
A Chinese company has told Lao authorities they want to invest US$10 billion in developing Khonephapheng special economic zone (SEZ) in Champassak province.
A Chinese company is keen to develop Khonphapheng waterfall and the surrounding area in Khong district as the new SEZ in Laos. -- Photo Phoonsab
Deputy Governor of Champassak province Mr Buasone Vongsongkhone told Vientiane Times on Tuesday that provincial authorities held talks with the company recently and signed a note of their meeting in the province.
“The company has told us that they already have the US$10 billion funding and are interested in developing this zone,” he said.
“However, they want to further conduct a feasibility study on this project and we have provided them information in regards to the previous study carried out by our authorities.”
If the company is actually interested in investing in the zone, they need to next sign a memorandum of understanding with the government before a concession agreement can take place.
Mr Buasone said the company was keen to develop Khonephapheng waterfall and the surrounding area in Khong district as the new SEZ in Laos.
Given the waterfall and surrounding area are designated to be developed as a new town focused on tourism, the Deputy Governor said the company hoped to build tourism facilities.
These would include hotels, restaurants, a trade centre and other tourism related businesses.
In July 2015, the government approved the establishment of Khonphapheng and the surrounding area as a new special economic zone in the country.
Before the government's approval, investors from China, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Philippines had expressed initial interest in the zone.
However, given the zone has been approved, if the Chinese company is keen to invest there will be few obstacles for them. Nonetheless, a casino is not permitted to operate in the zone.
The provincial authorities have allocated over 7,000 hectares for the potential development, which would be divided into four zones: Zone A (480 hectares), Zone B (797 hectares), Zone C (2,120 hectares) and Zone D (3,678 hectares).
Khonephapheng is the biggest waterfall in South-East Asia, attracting thousands of visitors to the area every year. The waterfall is about 80km from Pakxe provincial town and close to the Lao-Cambodian border.
Officials said the waterfall was a suitable location for SEZ development as it would bring more businesses and visitors to the area.
Several SEZs have been operating in Champassak province including Pakxe-Japan Specific Economic Zone and Champassak Lao-Service Specific Economic Zone.
Special and specific economic zones (SEZs) have become the main driver for growth in the industrial and service sectors of Laos, boosting economic growth and generating job opportunities for local people.
More investors from countries including China, Thailand, Vietnam and Republic of Korea have been investing in the province in recent times.
By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update January 27, 2017)