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Changes to Golden Triangle SEZ agreement proposed

Vientiane Times, 30 April 2014

Government officials and Chinese developers met in Vientiane yesterday to discuss draft amendments to the agreement on the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Bokeo province. The move comes after the two sides found the previous agreement was inappropriate and did not reflect the current situation of the country. Both sides wanted to revise the agreement to ensure that it was fair to the government, the developers and local people.

The amendments they discussed were related to land issues, investment activities and shareholdings but no details have been confirmed. The Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone was established in 2007, aiming to develop the area into an economic and complex tourism zone. The zone is being developed by Dok Ngiew Kham Group, which was granted a 99 year concession and plans to invest US$86.6 million in the project, which covers an area of 827 hectares.

Under the previous agreement, the government held 20 percent of the project’s shares and the developer the remaining 80 percent. Yesterday’s meeting was chaired Bokeo Provincial Governor Mr Khammanh Sounvileuth and attended by Deputy Minister and Vice President of the Lao National Committee for Special Economic Zones (NCSEZ) Ms Bouatha Khattiya and Dok Ngiew Kham Group President Mr Choi Wai, as well as officials from different sectors.

The zone is located in Tonpheung district and borders Thailand and Myanmar. It is also close to the Chinese border, making it easier for the developer to attract Chinese tourists and investors. Bokeo province is now connected with neighbouring countries including Thailand and China following the completion of the fourth Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River.

These facilities are important to promote trade, investment and tourism activities in northern Laos. Major progress has been made in developing the zone with hotels, casino, restaurants, banks, embankment project, roads and other facilities. SEZs are a form of development aimed at attracting foreign investment and generating job opportunities for local people as well as helping to drive the country’s economic growth. The zones have resulted in the construction of new buildings and roads as well as the establishment of electricity and water supplies, communication systems and other facilities, generating development in rural parts of the country.

There are now 10 operating SEZs in Laos, covering an area of more than 13,500 hectares and creating about 8,000 jobs. Among the existing zones are th e That Luang Marsh SEZ in Vientiane, the Savan-Seno SEZ in Savannakhet province, the Boten Dankham SEZ in Luang Namtha province, the Vientiane Long Thanh Golf Course in Vientiane and the Phoukhiew SEZ in Khammuan province.

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