SEZs driving economic growth in the south
The establishment of Special and Specific Economic Zone (SEZ)s and untapped tourism potential is expected to drive economic growth in Champassak province, a senior official has noted.
Deputy Governor of Champassak province Mr Buasone Vongsongkhone told Vientiane Times on Tuesday that more entrepreneurs from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea are heading to the province.
“Foreign investors notably those from China are determined to do businesses in our province in areas related to tourism services and manufacturing,” he said.
“If the trend continues, economic growth in our province could increase from the current rate of 8.4 percent to about 10 percent in the years to come.”
Three months ago, a Chinese company held talks with Champassak authorities and signed a note of their meeting in the province.
The company told authorities they wanted to invest US$10 billion in developing Khonphapheng Special Economic Zone.
“Currently the company has told us that they are interested in investing in this zone and hopefully we can move forwards to the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) and development agreement soon,” Mr Buasone said.
“Not only investors from China are interested in investing in Khonphapheng SEZ, but also those from Republic of Korea, Singapore, the Philippines and other countries.”
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 tourists to the area every year. Officials said the waterfall was a suitable location for SEZ development as it would bring more businesses and tourists to the area.
Given that Champassak province has huge potential for tourism-related development; Chinese investment in the sector would facilitate increased visitors numbers from the region including those from China.
Additionally the manufacturing sector has been growing in Champassak province, particularly after the establishment of the Pakxe-Japan SME Specific Economic Zone last year.
The zone is designed to facilitate development and attract more foreign direct investment, especially from Japanese companies and enterprises.
The Pakse-Japan SME SEZ covers an area of 195 hectares with expected total investment of US$62 million (more than 500 billion kip) and a land concession period of 50 years.
Vangtao-Chongmek Specific Economic Zone located at the Lao-Thai border checkpoint is under project design after a MoU was signed last year between the government and Douangdy Road and Bridge Construction Company.
If these zones are fully developed, they will serve as the main driver for growth in the industrial and service sectors, boosting the overall economy and generating job opportunities for local people.
By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update March 08, 2017)