Laos Update: Laos Eases Citizenship Rules

Laos Update | November 7, 2017
Authors: Matt Solomon, Riley Smith, Ella Duangkaew
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

November 16-17 - Vientiane, Laos: 10th Lower Mekong Initiative Regional Working Group Meeting: The U.S. State Department is currently seeking to identify private sector participants for the upcoming Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Regional Working Group Meeting. In particular, the organizers are seeking presenters for the session on November 17 entitled “Creating a Win-Win for the Public and Private Sectors.” The audience will include Deputy Director-General-level officials from all five LMI members (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam). Private sector participants are also welcome to join the other plenary and breakout sessions both days including one or more of the six concurrent pillar meeting discussions on the afternoon of the 16th on the following topics: Agriculture and Food Security, Connectivity (infrastructure, etc.), Education, Energy Security, Environment and Water, and Health. View the full schedule here. Additionally, participants can contribute to discussions on how to include the private sector in the LMI, helping to shape such engagements going forward. If you are interested in participating, or have any questions, please contact Jonathan Thompson at the State Department (ThompsonJ4@state.gov) as soon as possible.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Laos Eases Citizenship Rules

On November 1, the Lao National Assembly passed the amended Law on Lao Citizenship. The draft contains 10 chapters and 52 articles, and according to the Vientiane Times, “defines the principles, regulations and measures for managing and inspecting affairs regarding the granting and renouncing of Laos citizenship.” The amended law also expands the number and type of government bodies that are allowed to grant Lao citizenship to foreigners, and extends special privileges to “highly qualified” foreigners seeking Laos citizenship.

Specifically, an amendment to Article 18 of the law allows the government to grant expedited Laos citizenship to foreigners who are “highly educated and qualified.” Normally, foreigners must have lived in Laos for 10 consecutive years to be eligible for citizenship; however, foreigners who are considered highly educated and qualified can receive Laos citizenship after living in Laos for only five consecutive years. In addition, foreigners that have “performed outstanding deeds in the service of Laos’ revolutionary struggle or national socioeconomic development” are also eligible for citizenship after only five years.

The law requires all foreigners seeking to apply for Lao citizenship to renounce their existing citizenship, as dual citizenship is not permitted. However, foreigners that do not seek to renounce their existing citizenship but have performed the aforementioned “outstanding deeds in the service of Laos” can be granted honorary citizenship. The rights of an honorary Laos citizen are not outlined in the law, and will be outlined in a separate regulation.

According to the Lao Minister of Justice Xaysi Santivong, the law “shifts responsibility from the National Assembly’s Standing Committee to the government in making the final decision when granting Lao citizenship to a foreigner and withdrawing citizenship from a Lao national in line with the Constitution.” This indicates that decisions regarding Lao citizenship, particularly relating to foreigners, can be made more swiftly and by a wider selection of people and organizations. This seems to demonstrate a more favorable outlook towards foreigners in Laos, particularly in emerging economic areas where availability of skilled professionals may be limited. Such an approach may also enable Laos to explore greater utilization of existing ASEAN Mutual Recognition Agreements for the cross-border movement of skilled professionals to better leverage the development benefits of the presence of international businesses in Laos as a member of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

Malaysia, Thailand, and Laos Sign ASEAN’s First Multi-lateral Electricity Trading Agreement

On September 27 during the 35th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM) and Associated Meetings, utility companies from Laos (Électricité du Laos), Malaysia (Tenaga Nasional Berhad), and Thailand (Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand) signed Southeast Asia’s first multilateral cross-border electricity trading agreement, an important first step towards eventually realizing the ASEAN Power Grid.  According to the Energy Purchase and Wheeling Agreement (EPWA), Malaysia has the option to purchase up to 100 MW of hydropower-generated electricity from Laos.  The electricity will be transferred from Laos to Malaysia through Thailand’s national grid. 

The two-year agreement will come into effect on January 1, 2018, as part of the first phase of the Laos-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project (LTMS-PIP), which is considered a pathfinder for the ASEAN Power Grid (APG), an integrated regional grid system for Southeast Asia.  The agreement will be reviewed in 2020, though Malaysia’s Minister for Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili has already expressed interest in expanding the project beyond the expiration date.  He also said that a working group would be established to see how to best implement phase two of the LTMS-PIP.  While Singapore is part of the LTMIS-PIP, it requested to be temporarily excluded from the EPWA.  Singapore’s absence is a consequence of how electricity is sold in the city-state.  Malaysia subsidizes its electricity tariffs, but in Singapore electricity is sold through a market pricing mechanism.  The official announcement about the agreement from Malaysia's Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA) can be found here. A separate Analytical Brief (found here) looks at how the three signatories are likely to benefit from the agreement, as well as how the EPWA fits within the broader ASEAN Power Grid initiative.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Visits Laos

On September 29, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross visited Laos with a small, senior-level delegation of US-ASEAN Business Council members, led by Chairman of the Council’s Board of Directors, and CEO, President and Trustee of UL, Keith Williams. The delegation also included senior-level representatives from Ford and General Electric. During the trip, the Secretary and the delegation met with the Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith. The Secretary’s visit was the first-ever visit of a U.S. Commerce Secretary to Laos, and the first meeting between a US-ASEAN Business Council delegation and a Lao head of state.

During the meeting with the Prime Minister, the Secretary discussed the U.S. government’s desire to increase economic engagement with Laos, and the Trump Administration’s commitment to engaging with markets of all sizes. Following the meeting, the Secretary and the accompanying delegation witnessed the signing of an MOU between GE and Convalt Energy to develop the backbone of the ASEAN power grid; visited a Ford dealership and witnessed a live sale; and finally, the Secretary launched a Commerce partnership post of the U.S. Embassy of Bangkok, which will offer Gold Key commercial services to U.S. businesses in Laos. The Secretary’s trip signifies a promising upturn of the U.S.-Laos commercial relationship, and the Secretary positioned himself as an advocate for increased U.S. business presence in Laos. The Prime Minister was enthusiastic in welcoming the Council delegation, and expressed a desire to receive a larger business delegation next year during the Council’s 2018 Business Mission to Laos.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Laos, Vietnam enhance cooperation in information
Laos, China promote comprehensive strategic partnership
Lao, Thai Red Cross Seek Stronger Cooperation
19th CPC’s National Congress to Reaffirm Cooperation for Development in Laos, China, Says an Official
Laos, Indonesia ink five agreements during PM’s Visit
Laos to Host 5th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management
Vietnam’s Party Chief Requests Stronger Vietnam-Laos Trade, Connectivity

National Affairs
PM urges cabinet to pursue development targets
Govt prioritises rural development for poverty reduction
Govt seeking 40 billion kip to help flood victims
Special privileges offered to qualified foreigners seeking Lao citizenship
Visit Laos Year 2018 Launched along with That Luang Festival 2017
Laos Sets Ambitious Plan to Attract 5.2 Million Tourists In 2018
People’s Representatives Share Comments on Government’s Report
Dozens of Officials Familiarised with Int’l Humanitarian Law
National Assembly Opens Its 4th Ordinary Session
Govt, civil society organisations review results, sector administration
Culture, natural charms to showcase Visit Lao Year 2018: DPM

Customs
NA Approves Law on Protection of Producers from Being Affected by Imported Goods
Laos’ first dry port moves forward to world connectivity
Laos customs officials undergo risk-based passenger selectivity training

Defense & Security
Indonesia offers weapons, planes to Laos

Economics
Govt, Development Partners Discuss Higher Standard of Private Investment
First 2 Quarters Record A Constant Economic Growth, Minister
High Number Is Not Sustainable, Prime Minister Says
Govt seeks funding boost as budget deficit bites
NA session opens as measures to drive economic growth announced
Laos’ Growth Projected to Moderate to 6.7 %, Says World Bank

Energy
Lao Government Consults Stakeholders on Draft Mining Law

Financial Services
Central bank to strength foreign reserve management
Secured Transaction Framework Discussed
Laos extends curve to 15 years, seals largest bond
Laos prints its largest, longest sovereign bond issue

Food & Agriculture
CLMV, Japan Discuss Agriculture Export Promotion
EPF supports diverse natural forest protection in NT2 area
Laos, Vietnam Signs Agreement Strengthening Forest Protection Cooperation
Lao PDR gets grant to scale up food safety efforts

Health & Life Sciences
JCV boosts healthcare for mothers and children in Laos

ICT
Ministry to bolster education through e-learning
Govt takes over telecoms company

Infrastructure
Mega First secures RM635m financing for Laos project
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Laos, Vietnam enhance cooperation in information Vientiane Times 2nd Nov 2017
Laos and Vietnam have agreed on the agenda of their cooperation programme on information over the five year period from 2016 to 2020. Laos’ Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Prof. Dr Bosengkham Vongdara, and Vietnam’s Minister of Information and Communication, Truong Minh Tuan, yesterday signed the cooperation action plan in Vientiane. The two ministries also signed an agreement last year in relation to cooperation in the development of the information sector.

Laos, China promote comprehensive strategic partnership Vientiane Times 1st Nov 2017
Laos and China are continuing to promote their comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation and to contribute to development and closer people-to-people ties between the two nations. To further strengthen cooperation, Head of the People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) Central Committee’s External Relations Committee, Mrs Sounthone Xayachack, visited China on October 30. Mrs Sounthone met with President Xi Jinping, who is General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, to exchange views on cooperation, according to the External Relations Committee.

Lao, Thai Red Cross Seek Stronger Cooperation KPL: Lao News Agency 30th Oct 2017
President of Lao Red Cross Society Mr Khamhoung Heuangvongsy met with Secretary General of Thai Red Cross Society Mr Phan Wannamethee during his visit to the Thai Red Cross in Bangkok, Thailand on Jun 19-23. The visit aimed to strengthen cooperation on humanitarian assistance between the two national red cross societies.

19th CPC’s National Congress to Reaffirm Cooperation for Development in Laos, China, Says an Official KPL: Lao News Agency 16th Oct 2017
The 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) will be a forum for reaffirming the cooperation for national development and construction between the parties and governments of Laos and China, has said Vice President of the Lao-China Cooperation Commission Vichit Xindavong. “It will be also a forum for reaffirming the pursuit of China’s open door policy and it will create favourable conditions for the comprehensive solidarity between Laos and China,” Vichit said in an interview to China Radio International (CRI) in Vientiane on Oct 13.

Laos, Indonesia ink five agreements during PM’s Visit Vientiane Times 13th Oct 2017
Laos and Indonesia have committed to work together with five agreements signed on the occasion of Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith’s visit to Indonesia yesterday. Documents were signed following a bilateral meeting between Lao delegation led by PM Thongloun Sisoulith and the Indonesian side led by President Joko Widodo. Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) were signed on higher education cooperation and  basic education as well as drug control issues.

Laos to Host 5th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management KPL: Lao News Agency 9th Oct 2017
The 5th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management and related events will be held in Luang Prabang on Oct 17-19, an official told a press conference today Oct 9. “This meeting is of high importance as it is a high level meeting for discussing, exchanging ideas, determining measures to get ready, respond, prevent and address as well as reduce possible impacts from natural disasters,” said Mr Prasong Vongkhamchanh, Director General, Social Welfare Department, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.

Vietnam’s Party Chief Requests Stronger Vietnam-Laos Trade, Connectivity KPL: Lao News Agency 4th Oct 2017
Vietnam’s Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong has urged the Governments of Vietnam and Laos to work out measures to increase two-way trade and boost connectivity in economy, transport infrastructure and energy. At a reception for Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith in Hanoi on October 3, the Vietnamese Party leader called on the two governments to remove difficulties and obstacles so as to ensure the progress and quality of Vietnamese investment projects in Laos. General Secretary Trong also stressed the need to improve the quality and efficiency of bilateral cooperation in education-training and human resource development.

National Affairs

PM urges cabinet to pursue development targets Vientiane Times 2nd Nov 2017
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has called for cabinet members and provincial governors to curb overseas visits so they can maintain closer supervision of state affairs during the remaining two months of the year. This is aimed at boosting attempts to fulfil this year’s development targets, government spokesman Prof. Dr Chaleun Yiapaoher told local media last week. Mr Thongloun made the suggestion at the two-day government monthly meeting for October, as part of the government’s priorities for November.

Govt prioritises rural development for poverty reduction Vientiane Times 2nd Nov 2017
The government is placing great importance on improvements in remote regions and poverty reduction in an effort to address the development disparity between rural and urban areas. Addressing a meeting held at the National Academy of Politics and Public Administration in Vientiane on Tuesday, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Dr Lien Thikeo highlighted the need to pump in more resources to accelerate rural development and poverty reduction. Dr Lien also said it was critical to attract more investment into remote regions to create job opportunities and discourage local people from migrating to cities.

Govt seeking 40 billion kip to help flood victims Vientiane Times 2nd Nov 2017
It has been estimated that about 40 billion kip will be needed to repair the damage caused by flooding this year, although accurate reports of losses are still not available, according to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. The government has already provided some financial support to affected families and to help restore damaged property. The government has allocated 976,570,000 kip and authorised the release of more than 836 tonnes of rice from the National State Reserve to help communities that suffered losses in the floods.

Special privileges offered to qualified foreigners seeking Lao citizenship Vientiane Times 2nd Nov 2017
The National Assembly (NA) on Wednesday passed the draft of an amended Law on Lao Citizenship which offers special treatment of qualified and highly-educated foreigners seeking Lao citizenship. The amendment to Article 18 of the law requires highly-educated foreigners or experts to have stayed in Laos for just five consecutive years instead of the normal 10 years required for other foreigners. Lawmakers passed the draft, which was presented by Minister of Justice Xaysi Santivong following a one-day debate at the ongoing 4th ordinary session of the NA’s 8th Legislature.

Visit Laos Year 2018 Launched along with That Luang Festival 2017 KPL: Lao News Agency 30th Oct 2017
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith announced on Saturday the launch of Visit Laos Year 2018 and annual That Luang Festival celebration in the presence of ministers, foreign diplomats, senior officials of Vientiane Capital, representatives of international organizations and Vientiane residents. The government has set an ambitious plan to have at least 5 million foreigners visiting the country over the next twelve months and to have at least US$ 900 million generated as incomes for the country by foreign visitors.

Laos Sets Ambitious Plan to Attract 5.2 Million Tourists In 2018 KPL: Lao News Agency 24th Oct 2017
The government has an ambitious plan to have more than 5.2 million foreigners visiting the country and increase the annual income generated by the foreign visitors to US$900 million next year. “In order to make a rebound in tourism growth, the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism plans to launch Visit Laos Year 2018,” Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Bosengkham Vongdara told the ongoing 4th Ordinary Session of the National Assembly’s 8th legislature on Oct 24. The government has prepared a number of activities to promote the launch of “Visit Laos Year 2018” in an effort to attract more foreign travellers.

People’s Representatives Share Comments on Government’s Report KPL: Lao News Agency 19th Oct 2017
Wednesday witnessed people’s representatives continuing to share comments on the report by Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and his cabinet members regarding the implementation of the socio-economic development plan over the past months. ​The delegates focused their comments on the poverty reduction, rural development and government investment in health and education sectors as well as government’s efforts to promote agriculture production.

Dozens of Officials Familiarised with Int’l Humanitarian Law KPL: Lao News Agency 18th Oct 2017
fficials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Laos and International Committee of the Red Cross met at a seminar held in Vientiane to discuss International Humanitarian Law (IHL) to promote awareness and understanding of the law in the country. The seminar was held in the presence of the Head of Convention and Law Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Phoukhong Sisoulath and Representative of the ICRC Office in Lao PDR, Mr Frank Kuenzi. At the seminar, 35 representatives from MoFA and other ministries were familiarized with the main humanitarian-related treaties, in particular the Geneva Convention and their Additional Protocols to which Laos is a party state.

National Assembly Opens Its 4th Ordinary Session KPL: Lao News Agency 16th Oct 2017
The 4th ordinary session of the National Assembly’s 8th legislature was opened today at the National Convention Centre in Vientiane in the presence of President of the National Assembly Pany Yathortou, her deputies, and people’s representatives. President Bounnhang Vorachit, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and his cabinet members, and retired senior Party and government officials also attended the opening ceremony of the NA’s meeting which will last till Nov 17. The first day of the session witnessed Prime Minister reading a report on the performance of the government in the past months.

Govt, civil society organisations review results, sector administration Vientiane Times 13th Oct 2017
Government sector and civil society organisations from around the country met in Vientiane yesterday to review progress and assess achievements towards the implementation of administration of civil society organisations over last year and plan the year ahead. The two-day annual meeting between Government Sector and Civil Society Organisations (Lao CSOs) taking place in the capital closes today. The meeting saw attendance by Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Khammanh Sounvileuth, and Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Khammoune Viphongxay, Director General of the International Organisation Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Anouphap Vongnorkeo, and Director General of Institute of Foreign Affairs, Mr Theing Boupha.

Culture, natural charms to showcase Visit Lao Year 2018: DPM Vientiane Times 13th Oct 2017
Colourful festivals and events depicting Laos’ diverse cultural, traditional and natural charms are set to be highlighted through Visit Lao Year 2018, the Deputy Prime Minister has announced. Dr Sonexay Siphandone, who is also Chairman of the National Committee for Visit Lao Year 2018, told hundreds of local and foreign guests yesterday at the press conference in Vientiane that a number of festivals and events have been prepared to impress visitors. Visit Lao Year 2018 will be launched at the official opening of the annual That Luang Grand Stupa Festival on October 28, 2017 in Vientiane.

Customs

NA Approves Law on Protection of Producers from Being Affected by Imported Goods KPL: Lao News Agency 31st Oct 2017
A new draft law on protecting local producers from being affected by imported goods was approved at the ongoing 4th Ordinary Session of the National Assembly’s 8th legislature in Vientiane on Oct 30. The new law was presented at the NA session by Minister of Industry and Commerce Khemmany Pholnsena. “Devising this law materializes our obligation to WTO. The WTO requirements state that we need to fulfill making this law within five years after we gain membership to the organisation. This means we need to complete making this law before February 2018,” said Ms Khemmany Pholnsena.

Laos’ first dry port moves forward to world connectivity Eleven Myanmar 3rd Oct 2017
Operated by the Savan Logistics Company Limited, Laos’ first dry port at the Savan Park Zone C in the Savan-Seno Special Economic Zone is now closer to becoming a regional trans-shipment hub between Asean and China via existing linkages to regional ports. In this strategic geographical location, the country’s first Dry Port/Inland Container Depot is now connecting Laos to the world by linking with the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC) between Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, mid-way between the nearest Vietnamese seaport of Danang and Thai ports in Bangkok and Laem Chabang.

Laos customs officials undergo risk-based passenger selectivity training Asia Customs & Trade 6th Oct 2017
A total of 29 Laos Customs officers recently participated in a World Customs Organization Airport Compliance and Enforcement Officer workshop. The training is underpinned by enhancing risk management capabilities with a particular focus on risk-based passenger selectivity. Participants examine the elements of risk assessment, profiling and targeting, together with use of information and intelligence. Specific techniques covered include verbal and non-verbal risk assessment, questioning methodologies and systematic examination procedures for small items, hand baggage, checked baggage and search of persons. The program is mostly practical and topics are delivered through many individual and group tasks, simulation exercises and role- plays.

Defense & Security

Indonesia offers weapons, planes to Laos The Jakarta Post 12th Oct 2017
During a press conference with Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has stressed that Indonesia was ready to supply Laos with airplanes and weapons produced by two state-owned enterprises. "The Indonesian strategic industry is ready to supply high-quality products, such as airplanes and defense equipment, needed by Laos," Jokowi said during the joint press conference at the Bogor Palace in West Java on Thursday.

Economics

Govt, Development Partners Discuss Higher Standard of Private Investment KPL: Lao News Agency 30th Oct 2017
The government met in Vientiane on Oct 27 with development partners to discuss how to raise private investment to a higher standard and how to make the investment approval more concise, prompt and transparent. Organised by the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the meeting saw the presence of Léon Paul Faber, Head of European Union Delegation to Laos, senior officials from line ministries, representatives of development partners, foreign embassies, international organisations and private sector.

First 2 Quarters Record A Constant Economic Growth, Minister KPL: Lao News Agency 18th Oct 2017
​The past six months witnessed a constant economic growth of 6.9 % boosted by growths in agriculture, manufacturing, electricity, and mining sectors. Minister of Planning and Investment Souphanh Keomixay told the meeting between the government and provincial governors last week that over the past six months of 2017, based on initial estimates, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the sectors and provinces ​increased by 6.83% with per capita GDP reaching 2,472 US dollars.

High Number Is Not Sustainable, Prime Minister Says KPL: Lao News Agency 17th Oct 2017
Government has stopped setting an economic growth target that is beyond the actual competence of the country, based on unexpected incomes and intention to achieve a very high economic growth rate as this way of growth planning is either unsustainable or unrealistic, according to Premier. “This is to sustain the macro economy and prevent more challenges from being caused thus creating favourable conditions for addressing economic fragility issue over years to come,” Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith told the 4th Ordinary Session of the National Assembly on Monday. Over the past years, the national economic growth target was set at a very high level.

Govt seeks funding boost as budget deficit bites Vientiane Times 16th Oct 2017
The government will require 14.23 trillion kip in response to a budget deficit for 2017 after finding that the country will face a revenue shortfall again this year. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Mr Somdy Duangdy was speaking at the National Assembly’s Ordinary Session in Vientiane yesterday, describing the government’s plans to boost national revenue. He said the government plans to mobilise more funding to address the deficit and mitigate budgetary tensions by issuing bonds and borrowing more money from domestic and foreign sources.

NA session opens as measures to drive economic growth announced Vientiane Times 16th Oct 2017
A review of the implementation of the National Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2017, discussions on plans for the coming year and introduction of draft laws up for debate were on the agenda as the National Assembly (NA) kicked off its fourth ordinary session yesterday in the capital. President Bounnhang Vorachit, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and members of the government cabinet were in attendance for the opening session. In her opening remarks, NA President Ms Pany Yathotou called for a collective effort from all sectors to strive for greater achievements in national socio-economic development in the years to come amidst various challenges.

Laos’ Growth Projected to Moderate to 6.7 %, Says World Bank KPL: Lao News Agency 4th Oct 2017
Laos’ economic growth is projected to further moderate to 6.7 percent in 2017 as strong exports are weighed down by slowdown in investment, weaker tourism and stronger controls over government spending, World Bank said in its October 2017 edition of the “East Asia and Pacific Economic Update”. An additional 250 mw of power generation is expected to come on stream in 2017, bringing total installed capacity to around 6,600 mw, most of which is exported. Manufacturing exports continued to expand as new companies entered the two special economic zones while a good harvest and some recovery in commodity prices gave a boost to agriculture and mining exports.

Energy

Lao Government Consults Stakeholders on Draft Mining Law KPL: Lao News Agency 4th Oct 2017
The Prime Minister’s Office, together with the Ministry of Energy and Mines held a consultation meeting with stakeholders to the new mining law. The World Bank’s Hydro-Mining Technical Assistance Programme and Australia together supported the meeting, which heard views from a diverse group of stakeholders, including Lao government ministries, the Lao National Assembly, international donors, embassies and industry representatives. The mining sector has made a significant contribution to Lao government revenue and Lao exports over the last decade. This has supported Lao economic growth and helped the Lao government achieve its development outcomes.

Financial Services

Central bank to strength foreign reserve management Vientiane Times 1st Nov 2017
The Bank of the Lao PDR will boost cooperation with commercial banks and enterprises to improve the management of money flow, aiming to comply with the regulations on the control of foreign reserves and strengthen the process. Responding to questions from National Assembly members during the ongoing debate session last week, Deputy Governor of the Bank of the Lao PDR, Ms Vattana Dalaloy, said foreign reserves had remained stable over the last few years in keeping with economic mechanisms. In 2015, reserves stood at US$986.8 million, falling to US$814 million in 2016 and rising to US$958.7 million in the first six months of this year, she reported.

Secured Transaction Framework Discussed KPL: Lao News Agency 18th Oct 2017
The secured transactions framework is an important piece of financial infrastructure that enables financial institutions to provide finance against movable assets. The statement was made by the Director of IFC Office, Mr Phongsavanh Phomkong at a legal seminar on secured transaction held in Vientiane Capital on Oct 16. “Active movable finance market is a key to facilitating real economic growth and financial sector stability,” said Mr Phongsavanh.

Laos extends curve to 15 years, seals largest bond Global Capital Asia 6th Oct 2017
The Lao People's Democratic Republic, through the Ministry of Finance, raised Bt14bn ($420m) this week from a six-tranche bond in Thailand-- its largest ever print. The sovereign also managed to push out its curve to an unprecedented 15 years, leveraging on Thai investors' familiarity with its credit. Thailand's credit market has faced challenges since the beginning of the year because of high profile defaults from the likes of Energy Earth, according to a banker close to Laos' deal.

Laos prints its largest, longest sovereign bond issue Kitco News 5th Oct 2017
The Lao People's Democratic Republic successfully completed its largest and longest bond issue, with a 14 billion baht ($419 million) six-tranche offering in the Thai debt capital markets. Not only did the sovereign offering beat the 12 billion baht issue Laos completed in 2015, but it also pushed out its curve to 15 years from 12, and printed the largest tranche at the longest tenor, showing Thai investors' positive long-term view on the credit.

Food & Agriculture

CLMV, Japan Discuss Agriculture Export Promotion KPL: Lao News Agency 18th Oct 2017
Representatives of ASEAN member countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) and Japan met in Vientiane Capital to discuss the promotion of the export of made-in-Laos agricultural products. “The majority, approximately 70%, of Lao people are engaged in agricultural production, so the agricultural development is very important to all people,” Vice Minister of Industry and Commerce Phanthong Phitthoumma told a seminar held in Vientiane on Oct 17. The workshop was attended by Secretary General of ASENA-Japan Center Mr Masataka Fujita, senior officials from relevant ministries of Lao PDR and secretary generals of CMV national chambers of commerce.

EPF supports diverse natural forest protection in NT2 area Vientiane Times 16th Oct 2017
The Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) has pledged a budget of over 24 billion kip (US$ 2.99 million) to support environmental protection activities in the Nam Theun II area. The initiative under the Nam Theun II Watershed Management and Protection Authority (NT2 WMPA) aims to provide a future with secure forests, productive agriculture, secure land tenure, and positive human development within the Nakai Nam Theun National Protected Area. An agreement for the project was officially signed in Vientiane on Monday between President of the EPF, Mr Khampadith  Khammounheaung  and  Acting Director of NT2 WMPA, Mr Thong–Eth Phayvanh, witnessed by ministry and  project officials.

Laos, Vietnam Signs Agreement Strengthening Forest Protection Cooperation KPL: Lao News Agency 12th Oct 2017
Laos and Vietnam have signed an agreement to strengthen cooperation on forest protection, forest law enforcement, controlling and preventing illegal timber-related trading and wildlife smuggling. The memorandum of understanding was signed in Vientiane on Oct 10 by Mr khamphout Phandanouvong, Director General, Forestry Inspection Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry of Laos, and Mr Nguyen Quoc Tri, Deputy Director, Vietnam Administration of Forestry.

Lao PDR gets grant to scale up food safety efforts Food Quality News 9th Oct 2017
The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) board of directors approved the grant as part of plans to improve sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) capacity in the country. Jacqueline Lam, a trade specialist at ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, said the funds will help expand the existing project to cover more provinces in the Lao PDR. “Ensuring that key production and safety standards for goods, especially livestock and agriculture products, in the Lao PDR are met is important to the country’s economic development.” ​

Health & Life Sciences

JCV boosts healthcare for mothers and children in Laos Vientiane Times 16th Oct 2017
The health of numerous children under five years of age, including pregnant women in rural areas of Champassak province, has progressively improved with parents having better access to expanded immunisation supported by Accompany Japanese Committee for Vaccination (JCV). Since 2007, JCV has granted more than US$1.7 million in assistance to Laos through UNICEF, and hundreds of thousands of children and pregnant women have benefited from the programme. This information was outlined this week as a delegation from JCV visited the province from October 10 to12. The visit was led by JCV Director General Ms Mitsuko Ito to mark the 10th Anniversary of JCV assistance to Laos.

ICT

Ministry to bolster education through e-learning Vientiane Times 2nd Nov 2017
Government officials plan to introduce e-learning at the National University of Laos and teacher training colleges, the Minister of Education and Sports, Ms Sengdeuane Lachanthaboun, has said. Speaking during the ongoing ordinary session of the National Assembly’s 8th Legislature, she said Laos currently has 18 e-learning classrooms nationwide, or one classroom per province, which is insufficient. The Ministry of Education and Sports plans to introduce e-learning at the National University of Laos and teacher training colleges initially and later at other colleges, officials are recommending to the government.

Govt takes over telecoms company Vientiane Times 1st Nov 2017
The government has assumed ownership of the telecom operator VimpelCom Lao Co., Ltd. in a US$22 million deal to purchase a 78 percent stake from a Russian investor. Deputy Minister of Finance Mr Sila Viengkeo, representing the government, signed the deal with VimpelCom Lao Co., Ltd. Representative Mr Richard James in Vientiane last week. The takeover was based on the company’s debt-free status, Director General of the Planning and Cooperation Department, Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, Mr Phoukhong Chithoublok, told Vientiane Times.

Infrastructure

Mega First secures RM635m financing for Laos project NST Online 10th Oct 2017
Mega First Corp Bhd secured US$150 million or RM634.87 mil to part finance construction of its Don Sahong hydropower project in Laos. In its filing to Bursa Malaysia today Mega said it is made up of US$85 million term loan facilities and US$65 million Islamic financing.