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Laos to woo Chinese investors


12:42, December 21, 2012

BEIJING, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Lao People's Democratic Republic launched a seminar here Thursday to attract Chinese investors after becoming a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in October.

Ambassador of Laos to China, Somdy Bounkhoum, addressed the Lao Investment Promotion Seminar, highlighting Sino-Laos economic cooperation under the framework of ASEAN and the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).

The GMS is a natural economic area bound together by the Mekong River, covering 2.6 million square kilometers with a combined population of around 326 million.

The GMS consists of Cambodia, China (specifically Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region), Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The "investment climate" in Laos has been improving, said Somdy, especially after it was offered WTO membership, adding that his country is ready to offer preferential policies to Chinese investors in terms of tax exemptions, land use and labor resources.

Investors will enjoy corresponding preferential policies in different economic zones in Laos, including a special economic zone, an export processing zone, an industrial park, a tourism zone, a duty free zone and other zones, said the ambassador.

Minister Counsellor in charge of economic and commercial affairs at the Lao Embassy to China, Khampanh Sengthongkham, spoke about the Laos advantages in attracting investments.

Located at the "heart", Laos is "the only country bordering all the other countries in the GMS," said Khampanh.

With a total population of more than six million, Laos has relatively low labor costs for overseas investors, he added.

Laos has natural resources, large areas of fertile agricultural land, tourism resources while having virtually no damaging natural disasters all year round, according to Khampanh.

He advised investors to take note on opportunities involving sectors of agriculture and forestry, electricity, mining and tourism.

Xu Ningning, executive secretary-general of China-ASEAN Business Council Chinese Secretariat, said that in the first 10 months this year, Sino-Laos trade volume reached 1.37 billion U.S. dollars, up 42.8 percent year on year, far above China's average foreign trade growth rate of 6.3 percent.

With a total investment volume of 3.3 billion U.S. dollars, China is the third largest foreign investor in Laos following Thailand and Vietnam, said Mao Tianyu, section chief of the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs, Ministry of Commerce of China.

Nearly 200 representatives from Chinese enterprises and government bodies of both countries attended the seminar.

The one-day seminar was co-sponsored by the Embassy of the Lao PDR and China-ASEAN Business Council Chinese Secretariat. It was co-organized by Laos Botin Economic Zone Development Group Limited and Yunnan Provincial Overseas Investment Co., Ltd. and COSCO Logistics Co., Ltd.

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