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Vietnam tops list of foreign investors in Laos

Vietnam has become the largest foreign investor in Laos, 24 years after the Lao government announced its foreign investment promotion policy.

According to the latest report from the Lao Ministry of Planning and Investment, from 1989 to 2012 Vietnam invested in 429 projects in Laos with a combined value of about US$4.9 billion, becoming the largest foreign investor in the country.

Laos passed the foreign investment promotion law in 1989, hoping to attract foreign investment to boost GDP growth.

The second largest foreign investor in Laos is Thailand. From 1989 to 2012, Thailand invested in 742 projects with a combined value of about US$4 billion. The third largest foreign investor is China with 801 projects and a combined investment value of about US$3.9 billion.

In the same time period, among the other top 10 foreign investors in Laos was the Republic of Korea, which conducted projects with a combined investment value of about US$748 million, followed by France with 224 projects and a total investment value of US$490.

Malaysia invested in 99 projects with a combined value of US$430 million, Japan invested in 104 projects valued at US$428 million, and India invested in 21 projects with a combined value of US$161 million.

The United States and Singapore are also among the top 10 foreign investors in Laos. Since 1989, the US has invested in 113 projects with a total investment value of about US$150 million, while Singapore has undertaken 79 projects with an investment value of US$134 million.

Laos and Vietnam have introduced a number of measures to boost economic cooperation in recent years as part of efforts to further strengthen their special relations.

The two countries plan to increase bilateral trade from about US$725 million at present to US$2 billion in 2015 and to US$5 billion in 2020. To achieve this ambitious target, the two nations are offering each other investment incentives and tax breaks to boost investment and trade.

The most attractive sector for foreign investors is mining, which accounts for 27 percent of total foreign investment. The second most popular sector is electricity generation, which accounts for 25 percent of the total.

Agriculture, services, manufacturing, hotels, restaurants, telecommunications, construction, world industry and banking are also among the top 10 investment sectors favoured by foreigners.

The Lao government has offered a number of investment incentives including tax breaks to encourage more overseas companies to set up operations in rural areas. This is aimed at job creation and boosting incomes in less developed parts of the country. From 2011 to 2015, the government plans to source investment funding of about US$15 billion in order to secure GDP growth of at least 8 percent per year.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update February 13, 2013)

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