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Lao gov’t approve Chinese company to conduct SEZ feasibility study

Source: Xinhua, August 2, 2017. Editor: Zhou Xin
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-08/02/c_136491811.htm
VIENTIANE, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) — Lao government has given the green light for a Chinese company to conduct a feasibility study on developing the Khonphapheng Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in southern Laos’ Champassak province, local media reported on Tuesday.
The Chinese company had informed authorities that it wants to invest 10 billion U.S. dollars to develop the SEZ, some 580 km south of capital Vientiane, the Deputy Governor of Champassak, Buasone Vongsongkhone told Lao state-run media Vientiane Times.
If the project is realized, it will become the largest investment venture in Champassak province and potentially the country.
A memorandum of understanding was recently signed between the government and the Chinese company, Guangdong Yellow River Industrial Group, in Vientiane, Vientiane Times online reported Tuesday. The move will allow the company to conduct a feasibility study for this project as well as project designs and other activities within six months.
“If the study is positive, we can move forward on a concession agreement which will allow the company to develop the project,” Buasone said on Monday.
Khonphapheng waterfall and the surrounding area are designated for development as a new town that will focus on tourism.
The Chinese company’s study will identify business activities and tourism facilities to facilitate the growth of tourism in Laos. This would include hotels, restaurants, a trade center and other tourism-related businesses.
In July 2015, the government approved the development of Khonphapheng and the surrounding area, also known as Siphandone (the 4,000 islands region), as a new SEZ.
Even before the government’s approval, investors from China, South Korea, Singapore and the Philippines had expressed initial interest in the zone.
Khonphapheng, located in Khong district, is the largest waterfall in Southeast Asia and attracts thousands of visitors every year. Nevertheless, more facilities are needed to attract more tourists.
Officials said the waterfall, close to the Laos-Cambodia border, is a suitable location for developing the SEZ as it would bring more businesses to the area.
The provincial authorities have allocated more than 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).

Tunnelling ahead as Laos-China railway proceeds on track

Source: Vientiane Times, July 15, 2017
http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_Tunnelling_162.htm
Construction of the Laos-China railway project is progressing as scheduled despite some work requiring a pause due to the rainy season, officials in charge said.
Work on boring tunnels is carrying on, project coordinator for Luang Namtha province Mr Chanthachone Keolakhone told Vientiane Times via telephone on Wednesday.
Mr Chanthachone said Lao and Chinese officials had worked hard to bore tunnel entrances before the rainy season so that rainfall would not delay construction.
Naturally, work inside the tunnels can be carried out without little regard to weather conditions outside.
Mr Chanthachone said that all three tunnels are being bored with the Boten Tunnel having progressed the furthest at more than 120 metres.
The Teentok Tunnel is gathering steam at 45 metres in length to date.
The Laos-China Friendship Tunnel, crossing the Laos-China border has seen more than 55 metres of progress thus far.
Mr Chanthachone said construction of bridges and roads related to the project are now on pause until rains end.
Construction may not meet the standards if we continue to work due to the rainfall, he said.
In particular, the preparations to drill the foundations for a bridge connecting Luang Namtha and Oudomxay provinces had to be halted.
In Oudomxay province, the project coordinator Mr Phonpadith Phommakit told Vientiane Times on Wednesday that work on around 34 tunnels is still ongoing.
Currently, some nine of 34 tunnels have been bored and are on now track, while some works of roads and bridges are also on pause due to the rainfall.
In Vientiane, project coordinator Mr Souneth Luangsouphom said officials have continued to remove barriers and to develop areas for the construction since the project began in December last year.
At present, Chinese contractors had already developed a 15 km stretch in preparation for construction to date, he said.
A 7km-long bridge from Dongxiengdy to Nakhoun villages in Naxaithong district will be constructed after the seasonal rainfalls conclude, he said.
The planned 417-km railway to connect Vientiane to the Chinese border traverses the provinces of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Luang Namtha passing through 75 tunnels with a combined length of 197.83km.
The project has a total investment of 40 billion Chinese yuan (about US$6 billion), 70 percent of which comes from China, with 30 percent from Laos.
The project set to be completed by 2021 is seen to mark a significant milestone in the socio-economic and cooperation strategies of the two countries.
The project is linked to the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative proffered by Chinese President Xi Jinping and is expected to contribute to increased friendly relations and cooperation between the neighbours and Asean as a whole.
The Lao government places great importance on the realisation of the project which is part of a planned regional railway linking southern China to Singapore via Laos, Thailand and Malaysia.
Laos also attached great importance to and is seriously examining opportunities per the One Belt and One Road, which provides clear goals of comprehensive cooperation between countries of the region and contributes to the promotion of a higher level of connectivity in policies, infrastructure, trade and investment, finance, society and culture.

Demarcation complete, Luang Prabang eyes investment to push SEZ project ahead

Source: Vientiane Times, June 26, 2017
http://vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_Demarcation_145.html
Development of a US$1.2 billion special economic zone (SEZ) in Luang Prabang province has faced delays attributed to project demarcation now completed while its developer seeks further investment and financial backing.
The plans for the zone include a 23-storey building, schools, hospitals, shopping centre, bank, hotels, restaurants and residences including homes and advanced nursing care for older people.
The SEZ is designed to create a modern conurbation for the provincial capital while ensuring the ongoing preservation of the old town.
The government signed an agreement on the zone with the country’s own Phousy Group in January last year, allowing the company to establish this project in Luang Prabang province.
Areas for organic vegetable production also feature in the plan.
Speaking to Vientiane Times on Friday, Deputy Director of the Luang Prabang provincial Department of Planning and Investment, Mr Bounsom Thatsavong said that construction activity had not been carried out in the zone so far.
“The zone is still vegetated as it has been,” he said.
“Nevertheless, the developer has completed demarcating the project site.”
He said the developer would be looking for further partners to develop the SEZ zone since it requires an enormous amount of capital to carry out.
He did not confirm when construction would begin or particulars of the financial backing and investment sourced to date.
“Our authorities have tried to push for the project’s progress which should contribute to boosting the economic growth in our province,” Mr Bounsom said.
Earlier this year, Deputy Prime Minister Mr Sonexay Siphandone visited the project site during a visit to the northern provinces.
Mr Sonexay saw firsthand the extent of development so far and the location of the site where a bridge will be built across the Mekong to link the three zones incorporated in the SEZ.
People in the area currently use ferries to cross the Mekong between the town of Luang Prabang and Chomphet district for travel and business.
The zone is about 10km outside Luang Prabang town centre with another site in Chomphet district on the other side of the Mekong River.
With a concession period of 99 years, the initial project proposal comprised an area of 4,850 hectares in the two districts.
A portion was found to overlap with the world heritage site, resulting in a revision in size to about 4500 hectares, Mr Bounsom said.
The government hopes the project will catalyse economic growth in the province and generate further job opportunities for local people.
A one-stop operating service is to be introduced for businesses in the zone to ensure transparency and accountability and to facilitate development.
The site is set to help the province overcome development constraints and preserve the old town of Luang Prabang, home to Laos’ first World Heritage Site and considered a magnet for domestic and international tourists in an increasingly interconnected region.
By Somsack Pongkhao
(Latest Update June 26, 2017)

Vietnamese investment in Khammuan booming

Source: Vientiane Times
Date: May 3, 2017
By Time Reporter
http://vientianetimes.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_Vietnamese.html
Over 20 new investment projects worth millions of US dollars have been proposed to Khammuan provincial authorities by Vietnamese entrepreneurs, pending official approval.
A senior official from the Khammuan provincial Department of Planning and Investment, MrXaysanaKhotphouthone, told Vientiane Times yesterday that Vietnamese investment is booming in Khammuan, notably in the mining sector.
“The 20 new proposals submitted by Vietnamese investors are mega projects worth millions of dollars and we are considering various aspects of their proposals, particularly funding,” MrXaysana said.
“There are two main reasons why Vietnamese are coming to invest here. One is that Khammuan has abundant mineral resources including potassium, lead and gold. The second is that Laos and Vietnam are neighbours, which makes the import-export process easier.” 
Vietnam is currently ranked the second largest foreign investor in Khammuan after China. So far, 19 investment projects worth over US$500 million have been carried out by the Vietnamese. 
Most of their investments are in the mining sector, particularly the excavation of potassium, lead and other minerals.
However, timber for export is one sector that has become unpopular since the province enforced the Prime Minister’s Order No. 15 issued on May 13. The order bans the export of all types of unfinished wood products including timber and logs, and is considered a significant move in the battle to clamp down on the illicit timber trade.
While the mining sector is increasingly popular among foreign investors in the province, agriculture has not grown as anticipated with only a few investors building factories to process crops for export.
Critics say it’s vital to create more favourable conditions and incentives to increase investment and exports in the agriculture sector as this would drive economic growth in the long run since minerals will one day be exhausted. 
In the recent past, investment from Vietnam decreased slightly as many entrepreneurs encountered financial difficulties, affecting the sector.
During the first visit made by Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen XuanPhuc last week in response to an invitation from his Lao counterpart MrThonglounSisoulith, the two premiers witnessed the signing of nine agreements.
One of those agreements was the signing of the VungAng seaport development joint venture in Vietnam’s central Ha Tinh province.
Deputy Head of the Khammuan provincial Administrative Office, MrVannavongVongphachanh, said minerals from Khammuan were mainly exported through the VungAng port to Vietnam and China.
This is the shortest route to a seaport from Laos. Since the opening of the third Friendship Bridge in November 2011, linking Thakhaek district in Khammuan province to Thailand’s NakhonPhanom province across the Mekong, more goods have been transported along this route.

Chinese company to build modern agricultural industrial park in Laos

Source: Xinhua, 26/4/2017
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-04/26/c_136236572.htm
VIENTIANE, April 26 (Xinhua) — Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China’s Xuanye (Lao) Co., Ltd/AVIC International Beijing Co., Ltd on a modern agricultural industrial park project in Laos.
The agricultural industrial park will serve as a supporting project to the under-construction China-Laos railway, building a regional center of agricultural products trading, warehousing and logistics hub platform.
Speaking at the signing ceremony on Tuesday, Lao Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Lien Thikeo said since the launching of the Chinese-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, many Chinese enterprises have come to invest in Laos with constructive proposals, providing new impetus and direction of development to Laos to turn the country from a land-locked to a land-linked country.
The ministry is expected to cooperate with Xuanye to build a demonstration of modern agricultural industrial park in Laos, with the construction of the China-Laos railway to deepen bilateral trade cooperation and accelerate the transformation of Lao agricultural sector.
Previously, local government of Lao central Savannakhet province signed an agreement with Xuanye on a 2,000-hectare plantation demonstration.
After over two years, the demonstrative plantation zone is helping export Lao rice to China, and through the implementation of Chinese standards and technology, the farmers are changing the habit of slash-and-burn cultivation with low yield while maintaining the “green and organic” characteristics of Lao rice.
Chairman of Xuanye (Lao) Co., Ltd Xu Guowu said that the Belt and Road Initiative has refreshed the China-Laos cooperation with a new international cooperation platform, helping many developing and under-developed countries to enter the “fast lane” of development.
Both sides will conduct research later mainly on China’s agricultural technology and its market demand for Laos’ organic eco-agricultural products, technology innovation cooperation in Laos.

Lao companies to benefit from railway project: Officials

Source: Vientiane Times,April 21, 2017

http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_Laocompanies.htm
Officials in charge have confirmed that Lao construction companies will benefit from the almost-US$6 billion railway project linking Vientiane to the Chinese border.

Director of the Laos-China Railway construction project and Director of the Lao National Railway Company, Dr Koung Souk-Aloun, told Vientiane Times on Wednesday that a list of 59 companies has been submitted to the Chinese side for selection.

�We have sent them [the Chinese side] 59 companies, not 20 companies. The selection process is underway and hopefully Lao companies will be hired to undertake some of the work on the railroad project,� he said.

Xayaboury to Halt Banana Plantations mid This Year

The northern province of Xayaboury has decided that as of mid-this year, no more Chinese investments in banana plantations will be allowed. Currently, there are over 520 ha of banana plantations in the province.

Chinese banana plantation investments are suspected as the cause of several problems including the over-use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides which have failed to comply with required standards, thus affecting local communities and the environment.

Ministry to closely monitor agri-business

Vientiane Times, February 7, 2017.
http://www.vientianetimes.org.la/FreeContent/FreeConten_Ministry.htm

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry will this year closely monitor domestic and foreign investment in this sector as it believes that many companies have not implemented the agreements made or complied with stipulated feasibility study methods.The ministry will strictly apply management measures to investors and companies that have made no progress with their proposed projects or had an adverse impact on local communities and the environment.However, the ministry has not revealed the numbers and names of the companies concerned, the ministry reported at its annual meeting in Vientiane at the end of last year.Last year, 733 domestic and foreign companies agreed to invest in the agriculture and forestry sector in Laos with total investment of US$3.55 billion while US$1.74 billion of registered funding was allocated to land concessions on about 467,980 hectares.

Some 107 companies invested in livestock projects with funding of US$338.88 million, 345 companies invested in agriculture with funding of about US$1.22 billion, 232 companies invested in tree plantations with funding of about US$1.96 billion, and 49 companies ploughed US$34 million into service sector projects.

ຈັດສັນທຶນ ເພື່ອຈ່າຍທົດແທນຄືນ ​ໃຫ້ແກ່ຜູ້ທີ່ໄດ້ຮັບຜົນກະທົບຈາກ​ໂຄງການສ້າງທາງລົດໄຟ

ໜັງສືພີມວຽງຈັນທາມສ ວັນທີ 27/09/2016,

ສົມສັກ ປອງຂາວ

 

ລັດຖະບານ ໄດ້ຈັດສັນ ທຶນຈໍານວນ 5 ຕື້ກີບ ໃຫ້ແກ່ບັນດາອໍານາດການປົກຄອງ ເພື່ອ ຈ່າຍທົດແທນຄືນ ໃຫ້ແກ່ຜູ້ທີ່ຈະເສຍທີ່ດິນ ເມື່ອມີການກໍ່ສ້າງທາງລົດໄຟ.

ເຖິງຢ່າງໃດກໍ່ຕາມ, ການຈ່າຍຕົວຈິງ ແມ່ນຈະໄດ້ຮັບການປະຕິບັດໂດຍ ບໍລິສັດຮ່ວມທຶນ ທີ່ສ້າງສ້າງທາງລົດໄຟ, ຈາກງົບປະມານຂອງໂຄງການ ເກືອບ 6 ຕື້ ໂດລາອາເມລິກາ.

ການຈ່າຍທົດແທນຄືນ ແລະ ການປັກຫຼັກໝາຍ ເສັ້ນທາງລົດໄຟ ຕ້ອງໃຫ້ສໍາເລັດໄວທີ່ສຸດເທົ່າທີ່ສາມາດເຮັດໄດ້ ເພື່ອເຮັດໃຫ້ ການກໍ່ສ້າງທາງລົດໄຟປະຫວັດສາດດັ່ງກ່າວສາມາດເລີ່ມຕົ້ນໄດ້ໃນເດືອນ ທັນວານີ້.

ການປັກຫຼັກໝາຍລະອຽດ ຂອງຂອບເຂດໂຄງການ ຜ່ານ ສະຖານີລົດໄຟ ໃນ ເມືອງ ວັງວຽງ, ເມືອງ ຫຼວງພະບາງ ແລະ ແຂວງອຸດົມໄຊ ແມ່ນມີຄວາມຈໍາເປັນຫຼາຍ ກ່ອນການກໍ່ສ້າງຈະສາມາດເລີ່ມຕົ້ນ.

ເມື່ອການກໍ່ສ້າງສໍາເລັດ, ທາງລົດໄຟດັ່ງກ່າວ ຈະເຊື່ອມຕໍ່ ນະຄອນຫຼວງວຽງຈັນ ກັບ ຊາຍແດນຈີນ ໃນໄລຍະທາງ 427 ກິໂລແມັດ.

ປະຈຸບັນ, ບັນດາອົງການລັດຖະບານ ກໍາລັງຈັດສໍາມະນາຕ່າງໆ ເພື່ອ ແຈ້ງການໃຫ້ບັນດາພະນັກງານຊາບ ກ່ຽວກັບຄວາມສໍາຄັນ ແລະ ຜົນປະໂຫຍດທາງດ້ານເສດຖະກິດ ຂອງທາງລົດໄຟ ຕໍ່ປະເທດລາວ.

ກະຊວງການຕ່າງປະເທດ ໄດ້ຈັດສໍາມະນາຂື້ນ ໃນນະຄອນຫຼວງວຽງຈັນ ໃນອາທິດທີ່ຜ່ານມາ, ເຊິ່ງນໍາສະເໜີໂດຍ ຮອງລັດຖະມົນຕີກະຊວງການຕ່າງປະເທດ ທ່ານ ແສງເພັດ ຮຸ່ງບຸນຫວາງ.

New miners to come under scrutiny in Laos

Vientiane Times July 20, 2016

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