Laos Clippings: Walgreens Donates More Than $9 Million Worth of Flu Vaccine to Laos

Top Story of the Week: Walgreens Donates More Than $9 Million Worth of Flu Vaccine to Laos

IN THIS UPDATE:

Food and Agriculture
+ EU grant supports food security in rural Laos, Cambodia
+ Dry season crop losses less than last year

Others
+ Laos wilts as temperatures soar
+ World Intellectual Property Day held in Vientiane 
+ Chinese Company Bets Big on Laos Casino Project

Economics
+
Vietnamese firms channel $3.45bln into Laos
+ Trade with Laos to reach $1b this year


Health and Life Sciences
+ Walgreens Donates More Than $9 Million Worth of Flu Vaccine to Laos
+ New research to save Irrawaddy dolphins from extinction in Mekong

Energy
+ BioJet and Lao Asia Pacific form Strategic Project Alliance
+ Many Along Mekong River Concerned About Hydropower Expansion
+ Ch Karnchang eyes 10% return from Laos project
+ Laos resumes construction of controversial Xayaburi dam
+ Anti-dam activists picket Phuket Meeting
+ Cambodia Lodges Dam Protest with Laos

Politics
+ Govt prepares bills for debate at NA's June session
+ Lao leader attends Asean-EU ministerial meeting in Brunei
+ Local NA committees monitoring govt performance
+ Laos closing in on WTO membership 


Economics

Vietnamese firms channel $3.45bln into Laos, Vietnam Investment Review, April 27

Vietnamese firms have expanded their foothold in neighboring Laos with a total investment of $3.45 billion in 212 projects, mainly in hydropower, mining, agriculture and forestry.

Currently, Vietnam’s investments have been poured into 16 out of Laos’ 17 provinces, mainly in the greatest-potential and key economic sectors of the country, Dau Tu newspaper reported.

Trade with Laos to reach $1b this year, Viet Nam News, April 27, 2012

Viet Nam and Laos expect their trade turnover to reach US$1 billion this year.

Lao Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavat made the announcement at a Viet Nam-Laos business seminar in Ha Noi yesterday.

Lengsavat said he highly valued Viet Nam's active contribution to Laos' socio-economic development, which he said had created jobs and boosted the State budget.

Laos Rejects China Rare Earth Plant, Radio Free Asia, April 20

The Lao government turns down a Chinese company’s application based on environmental concerns.

After mulling for a year, Laos has rejected a bid by a company from China to build a rare earth minerals plant in the Southeast Asian state, citing the company’s refusal to disclose the source of its minerals and potential adverse environmental impact, according to a government official.

The mining official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that rare earth minerals could present a risk to the local environment and that without knowing where they came from and which materials are being used, the government could not approve the proposal.

Energy

BioJet and Lao Asia Pacific form Strategic Project Alliance, Biofuels International, April 27

BioJet has announced the formation of a strategic business and project relationship with Lao Asia Pacific Agriculture Promotion Import-Export Sole Company (LAP).

The partnership will involve the production of biofuels for land and air transportation, as well as other bioenergy products. The project will also include 100,000 hectares of feedstock production as well as refining/conversion facilities appropriate to the scale of feedstock supply.

Many Along Mekong River Concerned About Hydropower Expansion, Vientiane Times, April 26

A Thai company says it is going ahead with construction of the controversial $3.5 billion Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River in Laos. Some 12 planned hydropower dams on the Mekong are expected to bring in lucrative profits, but environmentalists warn the dams threaten the health of a river that sustains tens of millions of people.

Ch Karnchang eyes 10% return from Laos project, The Nation, April 26

Ch Karnchang is confident it will earn a return of 10 per cent on its investment in the Bt76-billion Xayaburi hydroelectric project in Laos.

The mega-project, with construction beginning this year and estimated to be completed by 2020, is vital for the future success of the company, chief executive officer Plew Trivisvavet told the annual shareholders' meeting yesterday.

Xayaburi Power Co was granted a 29-year concession from the Laotian government and Ch Karnchang should earn gross profit estimated at 12-13 per cent per year on its 30-per-cent ownership of this company, he said.

Laos resumes construction of controversial Xayaburi dam, Radio Australia, April 23

In Laos, reports say construction has resumed on a controversial dam on the lower Mekong River, despite an agreement amongst Mekong countries to suspend dam projects pending further study.

It's been reported that a Thai company signed a 1.7 Billion US dollar deal to construct a hydropower dam in northern Laos.

In response, Cambodia has threatened to take Laos to an international court to stop the dam, which critics say could disrupt the river downstream.

Anti-dam activists picket Phuket meeting, The Phuket News, May 1

Around 30 members of the Network of Thai People in eight Mekong Provinces (TPMP) travelled from the Thai northeast to Phuket to protest today (May 1) against the Xayaburi Dam, a major project to dam the giant river.

With the Mekong River Commission (MRC) holding an international conference on “transboundary river basin management” at the Mövenpick Resort in Karon from today until Thursday, the TPMP saw a chance to confront senior figures in the Thai government to call for them to pay more attention to the sustainable exploitation of the Mekong.

Cambodia Lodges Dam Protest with Laos, Radio Free Asia, May 1

Cambodia has called for an immediate halt to the construction of the Xayaburi dam in an official protest note to Laos, officials said in a statement released Tuesday, as opposition to the hydropower project gained momentum in Thailand.

Lim Kean Hor, Cambodia’s water resources minister and its representative to the Mekong River Commission (MRC), an intergovernmental body of four countries that share the river, demanded in a letter to his Lao counterpart Noulinh Sinbandhit that construction on the dam be suspended pending an environmental impact assessment.

Food & Agriculture

EU grant supports food security in rural Laos, Cambodia, Vientiane Times, April 26

A 3.4 million euro (about 356 billion kip) grant from the European Union (EU) is set to fund food security initiatives in Laos and Cambodia.

The EU has offered 90 percent (3.06 million euros) of the budget for the programme kn own as project Annadya, while the University of Liege/Gembloux Agro Bio-Tech, Hanoi University of Agriculture, and the Cambodian Agriculture Research and Dev elopment Centre are providing the remaining 10 percent (340,700 euros)

Dry season crop losses less than last year, Lao Voices, April 20

Various farming areas in Laos have been affected by the hot weather, but there is no official data to quantify the crop losses to date.

The water levels of many rivers are lower than at this time last year, and it is impacting dry season crop yields in some areas. This is particularly the case for farmers in the south who planted outside of irrigated areas, with farmers in neighbouring Thailand suffering from the same problem.

Farmers in many provinces of Laos are now harvesting their dry season rice, which was planted at the end of last year, according to a report from the agriculture and forestry sector.

Health & Life Sciences

Walgreens Donates More Than $9 Million Worth of Flu Vaccine to Laos. AP, April 18

375,000 people in Laos will benefit from donation to Lao Ministry of Health

As flu season approaches in Southeast Asia, Walgreens (NYSE, NASDAQ: WAG) today announced a donation of 375,000 doses of seasonal flu vaccine to Lao People's Democratic Republic (referred to as Lao PDR or Laos). The Lao PDR Ministry of Health (Lao MOH) was selected to receive the vaccine based on longstanding collaborations between the Lao MOH, World Health Organization (WHO) and the Department of Health and Human Services' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as Walgreens objective to provide vaccine to a population in need.

"This is an example of the potential value of collaboration between public health and private organizations," said Dr. Joe Bresee, chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch in CDC's Influenza Division. "Influenza vaccination is an important tool to reduce respiratory disease in Laos, particularly among people who are at risk for serious flu complications including pregnant women, the elderly and people with chronic health conditions. We're excited to help make this happen."

New research to save Irrawaddy dolphins from extinction in Mekong, Xinhua, April 30

Cambodia is conducting a new research with foreign experts on conservation of the Irrawaddy dolphin in the Mekong River, both in Cambodia and the trans- boundary dolphin population shared with Laos, the World Wildlife Fund said in a statement released Monday.

The research, scheduled for late April until the end of May, is conducted by the Commission for Dolphin Conservation and Development of Mekong River Dolphin Ecotourism Zone, the Fisheries Administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, and WWF.

Carried out in collaboration with experts from US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the researchers will remotely collect tissue samples from three free- swimming dolphins in the Mekong.

Politics

Govt prepares bills for debate at NA's June session, Vientiane Times, April 27

The government has approved a number of fundamental issues and bills at its monthly meeting from April 23-25, for submission to the National Assembly.

National Assembly members will debate the issues and bills at the June session.

Chaired by Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, the meeting approved a report concerning progress made under the socio-economic development and state budget plans over the past six months, and set plans for the next six months and the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The meeting also approved in principle a draft Law on Extradition and draft amended legislation on service fees, but the sectors involved were asked to improve the documents based on the recommendations of cabinet members.

Lao leader attends Asean-EU ministerial meeting in Brunei, Vientiane Times, April 26

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Thongloun Sisoulith left Laos yesterday to attend the 19th Asean-EU Ministerial Meeting in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam, from April 26-27.

The meeting will proceed under the chair of Brunei, which is the Asean-EU coordinator, and will be attended by ministers and representatives from Asean member states, EU member states and the Asean Secretariat.

Leaders will review the progress of implementation of Asean-EU cooperation activities in recent years, according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Local NA committees monitoring govt performance, Laos Voices, April 20

National Assembly (NA) committees in each constituency are keeping a close eye on local government performance and state development projects in order to maximise effectiveness, in line with the amended Law on the National Assembly.

Vientiane took the lead by opening up its second Plenary Session yesterday for Vientiane NA members to enquire about the performance of certain departments and their issues of interest.

Laos closing in on WTO membership, Asia Times Online, May 2

Laos finally has World Trade Organisation (WTO) membership in sight after working towards inclusion in the global body for the past 15 years.

Accession to the WTO now looks likely by the end of this year after Laos reached bilateral negotiation agreements with China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Canada, Australia, United States and the European Union.

Ukraine is the only country with which Laos is continuing to negotiate, but this agreement is expected to be signed by the middle of this year, according to a Lao trade official

Others

Laos wilts as temperatures soar, Asia News Network, April 27

The mercury hit 39°C in Vientiane yesterday, recorded as the hottest day this year, according to the Meteorology and Hydrology Department.

The department forecasts that temperatures in the capital could soar to as high as 40°C next week, with hot weather affecting northern and central areas of Laos. The department told Vientiane Times yesterday that temperatures in some parts of Laos could reach their highest level in 10 years.

World Intellectual Property Day held in Vientiane, Lao News Agency, April 26 

A rally was held in Vientiane, on 26 April to celebrate the World Intellectual Property Day.

The rally drew more than 350 participants including businessmen and students in the presence of Deputy Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Houmphanh Intharath, line deputy ministers, high-ranking officials, diplomatic corps, international organisations.

Director General of Department of Intellectual Property, Mr. Sitha Bounyavong said the purpose of celebration was to promote innovation and creativity and protect the products of intellectual property and offer fair competitive in society as well as apply the intellectual property system to socio-economic development.

Chinese Company Bets Big on Laos Casino Project, Voice of America, May 1

Near the famed golden triangle where Laos, Thailand and Burma meet, a Chinese company plans to turn huge tracts of jungle and farmland once associated with the opium trade into a tourism magnet.  The company, Kings Romans, says it is building a new economy, anchored in part by a glittering new casino.

The Chinese-run Kings Romans’ casino is one of the most noticeable and flashy features on the Lao side of the Mekong River’s Golden Triangle.

Kings Romans signed a 99-year lease with the Lao government to develop and run a special economic zone in a stretch of rural land spanning more than 100 square kilometers.