Laos Update: April 3, 2019

Laos Update | April 3, 2019
Authors: Riley Smith, Ella Duangkaew, David Mineo
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Ministry of Industry and Commerce (MOIC) Launches Third Iteration of Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) Focusing on Northern Laos Agriculture Sector

On March 11, the Laos Minister of Industry and Commerce (MOIC), H.E. Khemmani Pholsena, and EU Ambassador to Laos, Léon Paul Faber, launched the 2019-2022 strategic plan of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF). This is a project designed to increase Laos’ exports and support reforms and investments in local business development. The project’s US$1.8 million investment package will primarily focus on the Luangnamtha, Oudomxay, and Phongsaly provinces in Northern Laos—the most poverty-stricken region of the country. It is intended to improve livelihoods by boosting agricultural production and aims to support SME enterprises by removing barriers to business, developing local and regional supply chains, and enhancing public-private consultation. Specifically, the project will support agribusiness in Laung Namtha’s rice industry, Oudomxay’s maize industry, and Phongsaly’s tea industry. According to Minister Pholsena, the project aims to enhance the competitiveness of Lao enterprises and further integrate Laos into the ASEAN regional economy.

While the EU-funded project is relatively small in scope, it may provide opportunities for U.S. companies to tap into Laos’ agricultural markets, particularly as Laos looks to expand agricultural production, export to foreign markets, and integrate further into the global economy. The willingness of the Government of Laos to foster public-private cooperation is a reassuring sign and may provide a conduit through which U.S. companies can share best practices with agribusinesses in the Northern Laos region.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Japan grants over 76 billion kip for Lao development
Laos, Thailand target $12B bilateral trade by 2021
Mekong-Lancang Week 2019 Launched

National Affairs
Laos, U.S. Celebrate Five Years Of Cooperation On Trade Facilitation, Economic Integration
Govt concludes observations on implementing child rights’ convention
Vice President Receives Nobel Laureates

Defense & Security
Defence Minister Visits Malaysia

Economics
Lao PDR’s Economic Growth To Remain Stable In 2019, 2020, ADB Outlook
China’s Trade With Mekong Countries Reaches USD 260 Billion
Lao PDR Granted Japanese Grant Aid Of USD 8.9 Million
Plan Launched To Help Laos Integrate Into Global Trade

Financial Services
Public Financial Management A Path To Maximize Return On Investment in Future of Laos: World Bank

Food & Agriculture
Taming Waters In Xayaboury
Research Making A Difference: Laos, Australia Celebrate More Than 25 Years Of Partnership To Improve Farmer’s Livelihoods
France grants over 14 billion kip for tea project
Nation cultivating production methods to drive agriculture strategy

Health & Life Sciences
US$4 million in Korean tech for preventing infectious disease outbreaks
Japan Funds Health Centres, Water Supply System Construction Projects
WB Approves Support For Nutrition, Public Financial Management In Laos

Infrastructure
China’s rail link to Laos is almost half done, on track to start in 2021

Travel & Tourism
Laos-China railway project progressing ahead of schedule
Young Entrepreneurs Erom ASEAN Converge in Luang Prabang To Study Ecotourism
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Japan grants over 76 billion kip for Lao development Vientiane Times 21st Mar 2019
The Japanese government has agreed to provide grant aid of over 76 billion kip (US$8.9 million) for four projects of country development. A signing ceremony for the Exchange of Notes on Four Grant Aid Projects was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vientiane on Wednesday with the notes signed by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Sengphet Houngboungnuang and Japanese Ambassador to Laos, Mr Takeshi Hikihara. The four initiatives signed are Economic and Social Development Programmes in Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector, Public Security Sector and Fiscal Stability Sector along with the Expansion of Water Supply System in Luang Prabang City (Detailed Design) project. The Fisheries and Aquaculture Sector initiative, costing about US$1.8 million, will provide the Lao government with improved domestic fishery processing facilities and related equipment. It is expected to greatly assist the sustainable development of the country’s fisheries industry and strengthen a stable supply of fish.

Laos, Thailand target $12B bilateral trade by 2021 Phnom Penh Post 18th Mar 2019
Laos, Thailand target $12B bilateral trade by 2021 Laos and Thailand have committed to increasing bilateral trade volume by 10 to 15 per cent annually as the two governments expect to meet the target of $12 billion in 2021, according to the Lao trade minister. As part of promoting an increase in two-way trade volume, the Lao and Thai governments have closely cooperated in organising trade and investment promotion activities including trade fairs at the local and central levels. One such initiative to promote trade is Top Thai Brands 2019, which was officially launched in Vientiane on Wednesday and ran until Sunday. Last year, Laos’ trade deficit stood at $373 million in the first quarter of the year due to a large influx of imported materials to supply infrastructure and hydropower development and domestic production, according to a report from the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Mekong-Lancang Week 2019 Launched KPL Lao News Agency 14th Mar 2019
A Mekong-Lancang Week 2019 was launched on Mar 14 in Vientiane Capital with an aim to promote practical cooperation among people of the six countries namely China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand. Supported by the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Special Fund, the six countries have implemented hundreds of small and medium-sized cooperation projects, making great contributions to the economic and social development of the basin. The Mekong-Lancang Week 2019 was opened by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Thongphane Savanphet and Chinese Ambassador to Laos Jiang Zaidong. “The Lao PDR attaches great importance to the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation. The close friendship and cooperation between Mekong countries and China have rapidly and consistently developed over the past three years, especially through the implementation of the Sanya Declaration, the Phnom Penh Declaration, five-Year Plan of Action on MLC (2018-2022), the Early Harvest Projects, MLC Special Fund Projects, the Brightness Journey, the Poverty Reduction project (33 million RMB) among others,” said Mr Thongphane Savanphet.

National Affairs

Laos, U.S. Celebrate Five Years Of Cooperation On Trade Facilitation, Economic Integration KPL Lao News Agency 25th Mar 2019
Officials from the Governments of Laos and the United States celebrated the successful completion of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) LUNA II project at a ceremony at the Lao Plaza Hotel in Vientiane on Mar 22. The event, co-chaired by Minister of Industry and Commerce Khemmani Pholsena, and U.S. Ambassador Rena Bitter, highlighted USAID LUNA II’s achievements over the project’s five years of implementation. More than 40 representatives from the Lao government, U.S. Embassy, and private sector attended the celebration. “Today’s celebration is another example of how the United States is working with our Lao partners to bring high quality, international standard business practices to Laos. For the past five years, the USAID LUNA II project has increased cooperation and dialogue between our two countries on matters relating to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the ASEAN Economic Community, and the U.S. - Laos bilateral trade agreement,” said Ambassador Bitter. USAID LUNA II is a five-year activity designed to facilitate Laos’s trade with the United States and to further integrate the Lao PDR into the ASEAN Economic Community and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Govt concludes observations on implementing child rights’ convention Vientiane Times 21st Mar 2019
Laos remains committed to realising the rights of the child with authorities holding workshops to discuss concluding observations for all sectors at central and provincial level in order to develop their action plans. This was the message at a consultation workshop with development partners in Vientiane on Tuesday to discuss Laos’ adhereance to child rights conventions. The workshop was attended by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Sonexay Siphandone, who also is President of the National Commission for the Advancement of Women, Mothers and Children (NCAWMC) and Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office and Vice President of the NCAWMC, Mr Alounkeo Khittikhoun. Dr Sonexay said Laos remains committed to the realisation of the rights of the child and has conducted a series of activities over the past three months to disseminate and implement the concluding observations. This includes the timely reporting of the concluding observations by the NCAWMC to government leaders and national assembly as well as central and provincial level workshops to prioritise their implementation efforts. Mr Alounkeo explained the government will raise public awareness about the protection of the rights and interests of children through campaigns and issue a code of conduct for businesses, focusing on the tourism sector, to engage them in the protection of child rights and prevent child abuse, trafficking and prostitution.

Vice President Receives Nobel Laureates KPL Lao News Agency 14th Mar 2019
Vice President Phankham Viphavanh on Thursday received a courtesy call from Nobel laureates Prof. Finn Erling Kydland, who was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Economics, and Dr Sir Paul M. Nurse, who was awarded Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2001. The Nobel laureates are on a working visit to the Lao PDR between Mar 8 and 15. The two conducted a workshop on Consistent Economic Policy and Economic Development and “Building a New Enlightenment”. Vice President Phankham highly value the visit of the two laureates to share their knowledge of scientific research to Lao officials noting that the knowledge they have shared will be disseminated and applied in relevant fields in the Lao PDR. Finn Erling Kydland’s ground-breaking work is highly visible in his areas of expertise – economics in general and political economics. He provides global audiences with rich insights into business cycles, monetary and fiscal policy and the current global economic outlook. Sir Paul Maxime Nurse is an English geneticist. He was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine along with Leland Hartwell and Tim Hunt for their discoveries of protein molecules that control the division of cells in the cell cycle.

Defense & Security

Defence Minister Visits Malaysia KPL Lao News Agency 1st Apr 2019
Minister of National Defence Gen. Chansamone Chanyalath undertook an official visit to Malaysia from Mar 21 to 23. The visit was his first official visit to Malaysia since assuming office in April 2016. As part of his visit, Gen. Chansamone called on Malaysian Minister of Defence Tuan Haji Mohamad bin Sabu on Mar 22. Upon arrival at the Ministry of Defence of Malaysia, Gen. Chansamone Chanyalath was accorded with a Guard of Honour comprising personnel from the First Battalion Royal Malay Regiment (RAMD) led by Maj. Norshahidin bin Long with three officers and 103 others rank and accompanied by RAMD Centre Band led by Maj. Mohd Izham bin Ahmad Rashidi with one officer and 39 other ranks. During the call, both Ministers acknowledged the existing friendly relations between the two countries. Capitalising on the excellent spirit of cordiality, mutual respect and understanding, they emphasised that the Official Visit is a testament of their commitments to promote bilateral defence cooperation. In this regard, both Ministers later signed the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Defence of Malaysia and the Ministry of National Defence of the Lao PDR on Bilateral Defence Cooperation.

Economics

Lao PDR’s Economic Growth To Remain Stable In 2019, 2020, ADB Outlook KPL Lao News Agency 3rd Apr 2019
In 2019 and 2020, the Economic growth in the Lao PDR is expected to remain stable at 6.5% supported by the expanding agriculture, energy, industry, and services sectors, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has said in its latest report. The Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2019 forecasts Lao PDR’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth to remain at 6.5% in both 2019 and 2020. Industrial growth is forecast to edge up slightly to 8.1% in 2019 from 8.0% in 2018, largely because of sustained infrastructure development and an increase in electricity generation. The agricultural sector is expected to expand by 2.5% in 2019 and 2020, and the services sector is expected to grow by 6.7%, thanks to the government’s efforts this year to attract tourists from the people’s republic of China and neighboring countries. “Lao PDR’s economic growth will remain steady because of the recovery in agricultural production and strong growth in electricity generation, construction, and tourism-related services,” said ADB Country Director for the Lao PDR Mr Yasushi Negishi.

China’s Trade With Mekong Countries Reaches USD 260 Billion KPL Lao News Agency 24th Mar 2019
China's trade with five Mekong member countries - Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand - has reached over USD 260 billion as three years of Mekong-Lancang Cooperation have witnessed numerous achievements. China's foreign direct investment (FDI) stock in the Mekong countries amounted to over USD 32 billion and more than 18,000 workers from the Mekong countries have been trained since the establishment of the Mekong Vocational Education and Train Base. “Over the past three year LMC has been reflected in impressive efforts. LMC is one of the most dynamic and potential cooperation mechanisms in the region,” Mr. Chen Xiaodong, the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs told a reception ceremony for the 3rd Anniversary of the Lanca-Menkong Cooperation ( LMC) in Beijing, China on 22 March 2019. The event also witnessed the presence of the Lao Ambassador to China Vandy Bouthasavong, diplomatic corps, senior officials, representatives of public and private organizations, and media. “As a good neighbour, a good partner and a good friend, China is ready to work with Mekong countries to summarize the successful experiences of the past three years,” said Mr. Chen Xiaodong, the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Lao PDR Granted Japanese Grant Aid Of USD 8.9 Million KPL Lao News Agency 20th Mar 2019
The government of Japan has provided grant assistance worth JPY 1 billion (USD 8.9 million) to the Lao PDR to support its socio-economic development. The signing ceremony for the Exchange of Notes on four grant aid projects was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affair in Vientiane Capital on Mar 20. The notes was signed and exchanged by the Ambassador of Japan to the Lao PDR Takeshi Hikihara and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sengphet Houngbounnguang. The four initiatives include socio-economic development programmes in the fisheries and aquaculture sector worth JPY 200 million (about USD 1.8 million) and the public security sector worth JPY 200 million (USD 1.8 million).

Plan Launched To Help Laos Integrate Into Global Trade KPL Lao News Agency 13th Mar 2019
The European Union Ambassador to the Lao PDR Léon Paul Faber, the Minister of Commerce and Industry Khemmany Pholsena and EIF Executive Director Ratnakar Adhikari launched on Mar 11 the strategic plan 2019-2022 of the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF): Forging New Paths for Least Developed Countries in global and regional trade. The plan aims to empower Laos to use trade and investment in order to integrate into the global trade for sustainable development and poverty reduction. Targeting sectors in three northern Lao PDR provinces where improvements would directly increase incomes for poor households and especially women, the US$1.8 million investment will focus on increasing productivity of agribusinesses and handicrafts, supporting local enterprises by removing existing barriers to business and enhancing public-private dialogue. “The EU, as a reliable multilateral partner, reaffirmed our commitment to working closely with the Lao government to improve the trade environment of the country for a better inclusion and sustainable growth,” the European Union Delegation in Laos posted on its facebook page.

Financial Services

Public Financial Management A Path To Maximize Return On Investment in Future of Laos: World Bank The Laotian Times 25th Mar 2019
With a growing population and rapidly developing and urbanizing socio-economy requiring investment in human resources and infrastructure, the calls on public finances in Laos are larger than ever. These needs are spread across all the sectors you’d find in most countries, along with some particular challenges like unexploded ordnance (UXO). To fund responses to these needs, the government of Lao PDR is working with partners on improving the management of public finances in the ASEAN member country of some 6.8 million. These include such names as the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Budgeting for present and future needs is a must. World Bankhas a handy explainer: “Ultimately, an improved PFM system will benefit all Lao citizens and provide them with more information on how the national budget is used. “Strong management of public finances means more effective and equitable delivery of public services to all Lao people including education, healthcare, energy, and law enforcement.”

Food & Agriculture

Taming Waters In Xayaboury KPL Lao News Agency 15th Mar 2019
Almost four years ago, UNDP had a project in Xayaboury province of northern Lao PDR to help farmers in their struggles to cope with climate change. This February, we returned to one of the villages to see how they have managed with changing weather conditions ever since. The Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the global community in 2015, compels us at UNDP Lao PDR to take even more responsibility to ensure that our projects do not only offer a temporary sigh of relief to struggling communities in the Lao PDR, but that they serve as an enduring foundation on which they can begin to build a more sustainable future for themselves. That is why in February 2019, UNDP, along with members of the Green Climate Fund and representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, took a trip to Nasom village in Xayaboury province to catch up with some old friends made during a project entitled “Improving the Resilience of the Agricultural Sector to Climate Change”, which was implemented between 2011 and 2015. In the early 2000s, the farming population of Nasom had difficulties in adjusting to a phenomenon most of them had probably never even heard of: climate change. Although the small village nestled in a modest valley between the lush hillsides of northern Laos had occasionally suffered from floods, the usual predictability of seasons had become a thing of the past.

Research Making A Difference: Laos, Australia Celebrate More Than 25 Years Of Partnership To Improve Farmer’s Livelihoods KPL Lao News Agency 12th Mar 2019
Laos and the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) are celebrating more than 25 years of successful collaboration on agriculture research this week in Vientiane. With over 100 projects, ACIAR and Laos have worked in partnership to develop more productive and sustainable agriculture systems. Since 1990, the two countries have worked to improve the livelihood of Lao farmers and to contribute to economic growth, with impressive results. Teak farmers can now access fast-growing and higher value teak clones; fisherfolk can now start to catch fish again due to fish-friendly irrigation structures; rice farmers can now use new direct-seeding techniques to better manage climate risk and labour constraints. “These achievements demonstrate the results of the strong collaboration on agricultural research that exists between Laos and Australia. Strong partnerships with Lao partners and farmers, including the support to strengthen scientific research capacity, have been key in achieving this change,” said Australia Ambassador to Laos, Mr Jean Bernard Carrassco.

France grants over 14 billion kip for tea project Vientiane Times 7th Mar 2019
The French government has provided grant assistance of over 14 billion kip (EUR 1.5 million) to fund a tea value-chain project in Laos. The three-year project is aimed at improving the quality of life and earnings of small-scale tea producers and developing a regulatory structure for the tea supply chain in Laos. A financing agreement for the project was signed on Wednesday between the Lao government and Agence Française de Développement (AFD). The agreement was signed by Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dr Kikeo Chanthaboury, Ambassador of France to Laos Mrs Florence Jeanblanc-Risler, and AFD Country Director Mr Matthieu Bommier. Speaking at the signing ceremony, Dr Kikeo said “The government of the Lao PDR highly values the support of the French government through AFD’s projects, which focus on the sectors of agriculture, cultural preservation and justice. The signing ceremony today for the tea value-chain project will add to the expansive Lao-AFD portfolio and further contribute to the strengthening of bilateral cooperation between the Lao and French governments.”

Nation cultivating production methods to drive agriculture strategy Vientiane Times 7th Mar 2019
The government is targeting modern production methods in the nation’s agricultural development strategy to help push forward its policy agenda on food security and reducing poverty in rural areas. Deputy Prime Minister Dr Sonexay Siphandone told those attending the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s annual meeting on Tuesday that agricultural development played an important role in expanding growth in other sectors. Consequently, the government and the authorities concerned have been enacting laws and regulations in agricultural management and forestry, particularly in rural areas, to foster sustainable development. Dr Sonexay pointed out that while the country’s poverty rate had reduced markedly agricultural production was still of low quality overall as farmers were not employing modern techniques and getting enough support from authorities. He urged the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to further refine its strategic plans with a focus on science and technology, to promote environmentally-friendly agriculture in response to climate change. Increasing crop variety and improving infrastructure in rural areas to allow farmers to access more markets were also highlighted.

Health & Life Sciences

US$4 million in Korean tech for preventing infectious disease outbreaks Vientiane Times 2nd Apr 2019
The government of the Republic of Korea has forecast a budget of around US$4 million in additional assistance to Laos from 2019-2023 to improve information technology in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. A signing ceremony for the assistance took place on Friday in Vientiane between Deputy Director General of the Department of Communicable Diseases Control of the Ministry of Health, Dr Sisavath Soutthaniraxay, Executive Vice President of Korea Telecom (KT), Ms Hea-Jeang Yun and Country Representative of Korea Foundation for International Healthcare (KOFIH) Laos Office, Mr Juwang Baik. The “Public-Private Project for strengthening communicable diseases control in the Lao PDR” is supporting the upgrade of information technology in the health sector to enhance disease surveillance, risk assessment, and response systems through the training of field epidemiologists as well providing consultation in relevant issues. The agreement was witnessed by Minister of the Ministry of Health, Assoc Prof Dr Bounkong Syhavong and Ambassador of the Korean Embassy to Laos, Mr Sung-soon Shin.

Japan Funds Health Centres, Water Supply System Construction Projects KPL Lao News Agency 27th Mar 2019
The Japanese government has provided grant assistance worth over USD 414,000 for three health center projects and four water supply system projects through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP). The grant contracts were signed at the Japanese Embassy in Vientiane Capital on Mar 27 between Mr. Kazuhiro Kuno, Minister of Japan to the Lao PDR, and representatives of the Ministry of Health, and the authorities of respective districts and provinces where the projects will be implemented. The three projects for the construction of health centers will be implemented in Beng district, Oudomxay province, Saravan district, Saravan province and Phonthong district, Champasak province. The current facilities are in poor condition and require frequent repair work. Therefore, these projects aim to improve access to health services by constructing new health centers, each with five to seven rooms, as well as provide medical equipment. As a result, over 13,000 residents in 20 villages will greatly benefit.

WB Approves Support For Nutrition, Public Financial Management In Laos KPL Lao News Agency 19th Mar 2019
The Lao PDR will benefit from US$72 million in new financing, under three projects approved on Mar 14 by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors, which focus on reducing malnutrition in children and improving public resource use and service delivery. “One in every three children in Laos remains chronically malnourished, and maternal and child malnutrition is estimated to cost Lao an estimated 2.4 per cent of national income annually. We want to support the Lao PDR in developing its precious human capital by tackling malnutrition,” said Ellen Goldstein, World Bank Director for the Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia. “We have adopted an innovative multi-sectoral and long-term nutrition convergence approach in which multiple World Bank-financed operations come together to intervene across key sectors, while converging on the same households in the same geographic locations. We expect this will be most effective in getting results to eliminate stunting.” Households in four northern provinces with high levels of malnutrition will benefit from the US$25 million Scaling-Up Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene Project, which will provide access to improved water supply, sanitation, and hygiene services. These same families are targeted by the US$27 million Reducing Rural Poverty and Malnutrition Project, which supports the government to strengthen the building blocks of a national social protection system and implement a conditional cash transfer programme for improved nutrition. The innovative multi-sectoral nutrition convergence approach will come together in Xieng Khouang, Houaphan, Phongsaly, and Oudomxay provinces. In these areas, chronic malnutrition affects over 40 per cent of all children under five, with long-term adverse impacts on height, brain development, and their ability to succeed later in life. These two new projects complement three others supported by the World Bank in health, education, and diversified food production.

Infrastructure

China’s rail link to Laos is almost half done, on track to start in 2021 South China Morning Post 21st Mar 2019
China’s railway line to Laos is almost half complete, putting it on schedule to begin service in December 2021, said the chief of Lao Railways. Trains on the line can travel at up to 160 km/h (100mph) said Lao Railways’ director general Somsana Ratsaphong. Tickets will start from US$20 a trip. The US$7 billion project is a showcase of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road Initiative” for rebuilding infrastructure along the ancient Silk Road from China to Africa and Europe, which has garnered an estimated US$460 billion in investments since its inception in 2013. The Kunming-Vientiane link would eventually connect with a railway line to Bangkok, and southward along the Malay peninsula through to Singapore. The Chinese government will bankroll 70 per cent of the cost of the railway, while Laos – where subsistence agriculture makes up half of the economic output – pays for the remaining 30 per cent with loans from Chinese financial institutions. China was the biggest foreign investor in Laos as of 2016, having invested US$5.4 billion since 1989.

Travel & Tourism

Laos-China railway project progressing ahead of schedule Vientiane Times 2nd Apr 2019
Work on the Laos-China railway line is progressing ahead of schedule, with the project on track to be completed by 2021, a senior government official has said. Director General of the Planning and Cooperation Department under the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Mr Sengdara Kattiyavong, told the 2018 meeting of the public works and transport sector on Friday that work on the US$5.986 billion project had progressed ahead of the plan. Authorities in-charge will continue to accelerate construction work along with the payment of compensation to people affected by the project, he added.   As of February 28 this year, 61 percent of the project, which has a total length of 414 km and 332 m, has been completed, the Minister of Public Works and Transport, Dr Bounchanh Sinthavong, told local media last week ahead of the meeting. Lao and Chinese authorities have agreed to accelerate work to finish the railway in time to mark the 46th anniversary of the founding of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic on December 2, 2021.

Young Entrepreneurs Erom ASEAN Converge in Luang Prabang To Study Ecotourism KPL Lao News Agency 11th Mar 2019
During the week of March 4-8, 2019, fifty young entrepreneurs from ASEAN countries and Timor Leste met in Luang Prabang Province, Laos to join a workshop on ecotourism organized through the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), a U.S. government-funded program. Using momentum generated by the Lao Government’s “Visit Lao Year 2018” Campaign, the U.S. Embassy in Laos hosted the YSEALI Regional Workshop on Sustainable Eco-Tourism in Luang Prabang. The Asia Foundation organized the event, using U.S. government funding. The goal of the workshop was to bring young Southeast Asian entrepreneurs to Laos to learn from small- and medium-sized tourism enterprises in Luang Prabang that promote eco-friendly, community-based models for tourism. Over the past 15 years, the eco-tourism industry in the World Heritage City has flourished, giving rise to many new small businesses that have played a significant role in the economic development of the area and the country.