Laos Committed To Improving Investment Climate: Prime Minister

Friday, May 22, 2009

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Laos will consider legal changes to create a fair environment for investors and attract foreign capital, Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh told attendees at the 15th International Conference on the Future of Asia held here Thursday.

A digest of his speech follows.

Given the increasing economic and financial integration of nations, one country's crisis can become the entire world's in a matter of days. When that happens, Laos cannot dodge the fallout.

Exports of mineral resources, clothing and other goods slumped in the January-March quarter. Economic growth is projected to top off at 6-7% this year. Although Laos has not been hit as hard by the crisis as many other nations, its economic foundation lacks solidity.

The Laotian government is supporting production and searching for new revenue sources. It is also paying particular attention to easing the impact of the downturn on the public and improving the nation's administrative structure. To emerge from the ranks of developing countries by 2020, Laos is working on strategies for achieving growth and solving the problem of poverty.

Laos has an abundance of natural resources that can support industrialization. It will increase land under cultivation and take other steps to secure a stable food supply and work with other countries to address climate change by expanding its forests.

Laos has been labeled a landlocked country, but that designation is really a thing of the past. The expansion of economic corridors from the east to the west and the north to the south has made Laos a "land link" nation that holds a treasure trove of investment opportunities for those with an interest in logistics.

To make sustainable development possible, Laos needs capital and advanced technology. The government needs to create a better investment climate to attract foreign direct investment. Next month, the legislature will deliberate on legal changes to ensure that both foreign and domestic investors are treated equitably.

(The Nikkei May 22 morning edition)

Titles of speakers, names of companies, etc., were correct as of the time when the forum was held.