Laos Update: May 30, 2019

Laos Update | May 30, 2019
Authors: Riley Smith, Ella Duangkaew
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Lao Ministry of Public Works and Transport Looks into Adding Second Terminal to Intentional Airport

Plans are reportedly in the works to construct a second terminal for Wattay International Airport in Vientiane in light of a higher than predicted number of passengers passing through the airport in 2018. According to the Laotian Times, Wattay International Airport recorded 1.5 million more passengers (a total of 1.8 million passengers) then it predicted for 2018. The expansion aims at ensuring that the airport can accommodate the increased number of travelers, as the need for additional passenger capacity is anticipated to continue to grow in the next few decades. According to the Laotian Times, The Lao Ministry of Public Works and Transport, in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which has long held stake in the development of Wattay International Airport, is conducting on-site feasibility studies at present, which should help determine when and how the expansion will take place. No formal plans have been released thus far, possibly due to reports that the Lao Government is negotiating funding with its Japanese partners.

Reports of interest in building a second terminal come less than a year after the expansion and renovation of Wattay’s existing terminal was completed last August. The previous renovation, which was also conducted with support from JICA, was meant to accommodate the increasing number of passengers traveling through the airport. However, the expanded capacity may have contributed in part to the higher than anticipated number of travelers passing through Wattay in 2018.

The increase of passengers also is also likely a result of the Visit Lao Tourism Year 2018 Campaign, which aimed to attract 5.2 million tourists and raise US$910 million in revenue. While the Government did not meet its goals for the campaign, it appears to have had an impact on increasing travel to Laos. The campaign has been extended into this year, though it is focused more specifically on encouraging tourism from China and is called “Visit Laos-China Tourism Year 2019.” Tourism has the potential to be a major growth industry for Laos, particularly as the country looks to improve its tourism infrastructure. Concerns about Laos’ preparedness to handle increased numbers of tourist persist, as there were when the Government launched the Visit Laos 2018 Year campaign. However, continued action by the Government to form strategic partnerships that can support capacity-building projects, such as its partnerships with JICA for the Wattay International Airport expansion, are steps in the right direction.  

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 
  • Following the ASEAN Customs Directors-General Meetings in Vientiane, Laos from June 11-12, the Council's Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director Ambassador Michael Michalak will be engaging in a series of meetings on June 13 with various key Ministries in the Lao Government, specifically the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and the Bank of Lao PDR. Please contact Ella Duangkaew (eduangkaew@usasean.org) if you have any points you would like Ambassador Michalak to raise during his meetingsPlease send all points by COB Friday, June 7.
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Stakeholders Seek Ways To Address Urgent Challenges Facing Mekong
Sectors Discuss Stakeholder Engagement For Sustainable Development
R. Korea Further Support UXO Free Efforts In Laos

National Affairs
ASEAN Cultural Year 2019 Launched In Vientiane
Lao PDR’s Green Growth Reforms Get $40 Million Boost From World Bank
Gov’t, UNICEF Conclude Series Of Children, Youth Consultations
ADB Supports Employment Service System Development
Gov't, UNICEF Listen To Children’s Voices
Revitalized Role: New United Nations Resident Coordinator Ms Sara Sekkenes Assumes Post in Laos
Experts Discuss Landmine-related Risks At A Regional Seminar

Defense & Security
Australia Helps Improve English Skills For Lao Army Officers

Economics
Improved Public Financial Management Systems For Sustainable Development In Laos

Energy
Laos and SK Engineering Clash over Cause of Dam Collapse
Xepian-Xe Namnoy Saddle Dam Collapse Is Not Force Majeure, Says A Report
Laos-Korea Power Forum 2019 Held
Lao electricity to bring forex
Electricity imports to drop, exports to drive growth in Laos
South Korean power company eyes opportunities in Laos PDR

Food & Agriculture
Government Bans Banana Farm Expansion By Investors
World Food Hands Over School Feeding Programme To Government
Food From The U.S. Helps WFP Feed School Children Around Lao PDR

Health & Life Sciences
Accelerating Healthy Agriculture Project Launched To Improve Nutrition
Social Protection, Water, Sanitation Projects To Improve Nutrition In Lao PDR
Laos, U.S. Partner For Sustainable Health Security
Over 20 Million Children Miss Out On Measles Vaccine Annually, Creating A Pathway To Current Global Outbreaks - UNICEF

ICT
Officials Trained On Developing Digital Government Strategies

Travel & Tourism
Passengers Plus: 2nd Terminal In Plans for Wattay International Airport in Laos' Capital Vientiane
Laos Expected To Record Greater Number Of Chinese Visitors
Lao’s tourism troubles
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Stakeholders Seek Ways To Address Urgent Challenges Facing Mekong KPL: Lao News Agency 22nd May 2019
On May 20-21, 180 representatives from various stakeholder groups gathered at the 7th Mekong River Commission (MRC) Regional Stakeholder Forum in Bangkok, Thailand to learn lessons from current joint efforts and find better ways to address urgent challenges facing the Mekong. Participants included representatives from Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Thailand, Viet Nam, China and Myanmar as well as research institutions, the private sector, development partners, and civil society organisations. The forum focused on the achievements and lessons learned in working together on cross-border issues, impacts and opportunities drawn from the MRC Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management (M-IWRM) Project, which is primarily funded by the World Bank.

Sectors Discuss Stakeholder Engagement For Sustainable Development KPL: Lao News Agency 21st May 2019
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs with support of UN-DESA, UNESCAP and the UN Country Team convened Government planning focal points from across sectors for a workshop on stakeholder engagement for the 2030 Agenda. Mr. Anouparb Vongnorkeo, Director-General of the Department of International Organizations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who chaired the meeting, emphasized the importance of engaging all parts of the government, private sector and other national partners, vertically and horizontally.

R. Korea Further Support UXO Free Efforts In Laos KPL: Lao News Agency 15th May 2019
The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), the National Regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action Sector in the Lao PDR (NRA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a contribution agreement on the ‘Project to Support for UXO Sector in the Lao PDR phase 2 (2019-2022/USD 5.5 million) on May 14 in Vientiane. Present at the signing event included KOICA President Lee Mikyung, the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the Lao PDR, Mr. Shin Sung-Soon, the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Baykham Khattiya, the Resident Representative of the KOICA Laos Office Oh Sungsoo, UNDP Resident Representative to Laos Ricarda Rieger, NRA Acting Director General Bounpheng Sisawath and representatives of key stakeholders.

National Affairs

ASEAN Cultural Year 2019 Launched In Vientiane KPL: Lao News Agency 30th May 2019
Animation film “Ramavatar: Murals Brought to Life” was screened at the National Cultural Hall in Vientiane, on May 29 marking the launch of ASEAN Cultural Year 2019 in Laos. ASEAN Cultural Year 2019 – a cultural plan of action proposed by Thailand as one of the main activities during Thailand’s ASEAN chairmanship, was warmly welcomed and adopted at the 8th Meeting of ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Culture and Art (AMCA), in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in October 2018. The film screening event saw the presence of Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Bosengkham Vongdara, and Thailand’s Minister of Culture Vira Rojpojchanarat.

Lao PDR’s Green Growth Reforms Get $40 Million Boost From World Bank KPL: Lao News Agency 30th May 2019
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved on May 28 a US$40 million credit to support the Lao PDR’s shift to a more sustainable growth model. The Second Programmatic Green Growth Development Policy Operation fosters reforms to strengthen fiscal and financial sustainability and incorporate green growth principles into development planning. “This operation is aligned with the government of the Lao PDR’s green growth vision, as articulated in the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan and the new National Green Growth Strategy for 2030,” said Dr. Kikeo Chanthaboury, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment. “Our transition to a greener development model can help sustain the Lao PDR’s strong economic growth and make the country more resilient to climate change.”

Gov’t, UNICEF Conclude Series Of Children, Youth Consultations KPL: Lao News Agency 28th May 2019
Young representatives from central provinces are gathering in Vientiane Capital to propose solutions to overcome challenges in the realization of their rights as part of the activities planned to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Their views will be summarised in the ‘Children and Youth Ideas and Actions for a Better Future’ report to be presented in November at the Lao Generation 2030 Forum.

ADB Supports Employment Service System Development KPL: Lao News Agency 24th May 2019
ADB- supported Technical assistance (TA) project has helped to develop employment service system for the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW) expand opportunities for local job seekers’ access to employment information. “The technical assistance project is significant and necessary for the Lao PDR in the current situation because it will provide a modern employment service system and strengthen the technical management capacity of civil servants working at job centres in the future,” said Mr Thay Sengaloun, Deputy Director, Department of Skills Development and Employment, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare at the workshop on AT impact assessment validation workshop strengthening capacity to develop the employment in Vientiane on May 22.

Gov't, UNICEF Listen To Children’s Voices KPL: Lao News Agency 7th May 2019
The National Commission for the Advancement of Women, Mothers and Children (NCAWMC) with the support of UNICEF launched on May 7 in Savannakhet a consultation to listen to children’s voices, give them the space they need to articulate their concerns and propose solutions to existing challenges in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The meeting drew over 50 representatives of children aged between 11 and 18 years old from Bolikhamsay, Savannakhet, Khammuan, Saravan, Champassak, Sekong and Attapeu.

Revitalized Role: New United Nations Resident Coordinator Ms Sara Sekkenes Assumes Post in Laos The Laotian Times 3rd May 2019
The United Nations in Lao PDR has a new Resident Coordinator, the most senior UN Official in Laos. Ms. Sara Sekkenes a national of Norway succeeds Ms. Kaarina Immonen of Finland in the key diplomatic and development role. Ms. Sekkenes assumes the position representing the UN and it’s Secretary-General in the country.

Experts Discuss Landmine-related Risks At A Regional Seminar KPL: Lao News Agency 2nd May 2019
Government authorities and international experts from ten countries have gathered for the first Regional Seminar on Landmines, Cluster Munitions and Explosive Remnants of War (ERWs). The two-day seminar organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICR) in Vientiane on April 29. The seminar was explored the humanitarian impact of anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and ERWs.

Defense & Security

Australia Helps Improve English Skills For Lao Army Officers KPL: Lao News Agency 29th May 2019
The Australian Department of Defence works closely with the Lao People’s Army (LPA) to improve English capability of local armed force officers. English is the language of ASEAN and Australia has been a long-term supporter for the LPA’s English language training programme. Every year Australia grants scholarships to over 80 LPA officers to study English at Vientiane College and sends 5-10 officers to Australia for additional English training.

Economics

Improved Public Financial Management Systems For Sustainable Development In Laos KPL: Lao News Agency 10th May 2019
Lao PDR will benefit from public financial management reforms to improve financial reporting, and develop administrative capacity for revenue collection, public procurement, and budget execution, with support from the World Bank. The USD$ 20 million Enhancing Public Finance Management through Information and Communication Technology and Skills (E-FITS) Project financed by the International Development Association (IDA) was signed by Deputy Minister of Finance Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, and World Bank Country Manager for the Lao PDR Nicola Pontara in Vientiane on May 9.

Energy

Laos and SK Engineering Clash over Cause of Dam Collapse Laotian Times 29th May 2019
A South Korean construction firm has dismissed the latest findings by the Lao government that are cited as the reason for a fatal hydropower dam collapse last year in Laos. SK Engineering & Construction said in a press release on 29 May that the company could not agree with the findings as they lack scientific basis and data.

Xepian-Xe Namnoy Saddle Dam Collapse Is Not Force Majeure, Says A Report KPL: Lao News Agency 28th May 2019
The findings of an investigation conducted by a panel of professional and independent experts have suggested that the root cause of the saddle dam D of the Xepian- Xe Namnoy hydropower project is not force majeure. The National Investigation Committee revealed on Tuesday the results of the dam collapse investigation which has been conducted by the Independent Expert Panel, IEP. The IEP’s members are Prof. Anton J. Schleiss of Switzerland, Honorary President of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD), Mr. Ahmed F. Chraibi of Morocco, Former Vice President of ICOLD and Dr. Jean-Pierre Tournier of Canada, a Vice President of ICOLD.

Laos-Korea Power Forum 2019 Held KPL: Lao News Agency 3rd May 2019
The Laos-Korea Power Forum and Business Meeting 2019 was held in Vientiane Capital to promote investment and electricity development in Laos. The meeting was held in Vientiane Capital on May 2 by the Korean Trade-Investment Agency (KOTRA) in cooperation with the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) and the Ministry of Energy and Mines.

Lao electricity to bring forex Phnom Penh Post 21st May 2019
Bank of the Lao PDR initially projected the export value of electricity would reach $1.3 billion last year. Electricity generation looks set to take a leading role in supplying Laos with foreign exchange in the coming years, according to data from the Bank of the Lao PDR. According to data cited in the bank’s 2018 report, electricity generation will likely become the main provider of foreign exchange in the foreseeable future, thanks to the industry’s rising export value.

Electricity imports to drop, exports to drive growth in Laos Xinhua 16th May 2019
The amount of electricity imported by Laos is likely to drop in 2019 as the country witnesses a surge in electricity generation. In 2018, Laos spent 15.4 million U.S. dollars on electricity imports. In 2019, Laos plans to spend about 12.1 million U.S. dollars on electricity imports, mostly from China and Vietnam. The country's target is to earn about 1,328 million U.S. dollars from electricity exports this year. Electricity is the key sector expected to drive the growth of the economy, according to the report.

South Korean power company eyes opportunities in Laos PDR The Phnom Penh Post 8th May 2019
The Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) hopes to expand its power equipment business as well as explore other avenues of cooperation with Laos’ energy sector. A business meeting between representatives of Laos’ Ministry of Energy and Mines, Electricite du Laos (EDL), and Kepco as well as related sectors from Lao and the Republic of Korea was held in Vientiane last week. “The Ministry of Energy and Mines is aware of the importance of modern technology which will increase our energy generation as well as distribution capacity. We are pleased about the cooperation between EDL and Kepco in the energy sector,” a ministry representative said. “For this project, Kepco has installed a simulated GIS substation at EDL and organised a training course for EDL staff. We look forward to benefiting from cooperation between the two companies and from Kepco’s international experience in the use of advanced technology, especially the technology used in the energy sector,” he added. The event was organised by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) to introduce new technologies from Kepco such as energy storage systems, smart city, digital transformation and others to Lao power companies. It also aimed to promote export products to partner companies. About 10 Lao power companies attended the meeting and discussed products and the latest technology from Kepco as well as the most efficient ways to order and use them.

Food & Agriculture

Government Bans Banana Farm Expansion By Investors KPL: Lao News Agency 22nd May 2019
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has insisted investors cannot plant any banana trees on 600-700 ha of land they have cleared in Vientiane Capital, adding that the existing banana plantation must be clean agriculture. According to people’s complaints that investors have directly rented land from local people without permission from relevant authorities and are clearing around 600-700 ha of land in Naxaythong district, specifically, Nam Houm area, Ilay Neua and Sendin areas, to export banana overseas and our data collection suggests that this is true and the government will not allow this to be continued at all as the farm is close to community and main rivers that feed hundreds of thousand people in Vientiane and neighbouring areas,” said on Tuesday Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bounkhouang Khambounheuang.

World Food Hands Over School Feeding Programme To Government KPL: Lao News Agency 16th May 2019
The World Food Programme (WFP) on May 15 handed over its school feeding programme currently implemented at more than 500 schools across the country to the government. The handover ceremony took place at the Bor village school in Xay district, Oudomxay province where WFP provides 40,000 plates of food per year to the school’s 200 students.

Food From The U.S. Helps WFP Feed School Children Around Lao PDR KPL: Lao News Agency 10th May 2019
A large shipment of rice, lentils and oil donated by the United States arrived at the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Vientiane warehouse on May 10, 2019, where U.S. Ambassador to Lao PDR Rena Bitter received the goods. Since 2008, the U.S. government’s McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Programme, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), has been supporting the WFP school meals programme in Laos with contributions totaling more than US$60 million. Since the beginning of the McGovern-Dole support through WFP, more than 1.5 million Lao children have benefited from a nutritious meal.

Health & Life Sciences

Accelerating Healthy Agriculture Project Launched To Improve Nutrition KPL: Lao News Agency 14th May 2019
The Lao PDR has received over EUR 11 million boost, aiming to improve the nutrition outcome of almost 24,000 women of reproductive age (15-49) and over 11,000 children in the Lao PDR. A Memorandum of Understanding for the Partnership of Improved Nutrition, Accelerating Healthy Agriculture and Nutrition Project was signed by Mr Vibol Chap, Country Programme Director of World Visions International Laos and Representatives from Provincial Health Departments of Savannakhet, Saravan and Attapeu in Vientiane on May 14, 2019. The European Union (EU) has provided funding of over EUR 10 million supporting the implementation of the Accelerating Healthy Agriculture and Nutrition Project (AHAN) which aligns with the multi-sectoral convergence approach of the National Nutrition Strategy, to create supportive conditions for enhanced household nutrition.

Social Protection, Water, Sanitation Projects To Improve Nutrition In Lao PDR KPL: Lao News Agency 10th May 2019
Two new projects, totaling US$52 million, will jointly address high levels of stunting in northern provinces of Lao PDR. The Reducing Rural Poverty and Malnutrition Project will lay the foundations of a national social protection system and support the delivery of a conditional cash transfer programme for improved nutrition. The Scaling-Up Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene Project will improve access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services.

Laos, U.S. Partner For Sustainable Health Security KPL: Lao News Agency 7th May 2019
Dr. Robert Pope, Director, Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR), Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), met in Vientiane on May 2-3 with counterparts in the Lao government and military, as well as representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), to review the positive results from Lao-U.S. cooperative health security programmes.

Over 20 Million Children Miss Out On Measles Vaccine Annually, Creating A Pathway To Current Global Outbreaks - UNICEF KPL Lao News Agency 2nd May 2019
An estimated 169 million children missed out on the first dose of the measles vaccine between 2010 and 2017, or 21.1 million children a year on average, UNICEF said on Apr 26. In East Asia and Pacific region, nearly 28 million children in 2017 were vaccinated against measles, however, more than 2 million children missed out in the same year. This has been the pattern every year for the past 2-3 years, making children in the region more vulnerable to measles outbreaks. In the Lao PDR, the Ministry of Health estimates that 350,153 children missed out on the first dose between 2010 and 2017, a yearly average of 43,769 children. Widening pockets of unvaccinated children have created a pathway to the measles outbreaks hitting several countries around the world today.

ICT

Officials Trained On Developing Digital Government Strategies KPL: Lao News Agency 2nd May 2019
The Singaporean Ministry of Foreign Affairs funded a 5-day training course on “Developing Digital Government Strategies” for 25 Lao government officials from 22 to 26 April 2019. The course, which was held at the Laos-Singapore Cooperation Centre in Vientiane, was conducted by the National University of Singapore. The course discussed the concept and evolution and framework and strategies of digital government and on how participants can apply them to develop an action plan for their own digital government.

Travel & Tourism

Passengers Plus: 2nd Terminal In Plans for Wattay International Airport in Laos' Capital Vientiane Laotian Times 21st May 2019
Increasing passenger numbers via Vientiane’s Wattay Airport as Laos pushes plans for a second terminal forward in capital. The latest push comes after the completion and opening of a renovated domestic terminal in 2018 with a handover ceremony held in August. The additional terminal for the capital’s airport is understood to become necessary as annual passenger movements are recorded at 1.8 million, in excess of the 1.5 million originally predicted for 2020.

Laos Expected To Record Greater Number Of Chinese Visitors KPL: Lao News Agency 19th May 2019
Laos has been expected record greater number of Chinese tourists this year. Meanwhile, the Chinese government has confirmed it will work with other countries to promote tourism in Asian. The Asian Culture and Tourism Exhibition was held on May 16 in Beijing, China. The event witnessed representatives of over 47 Asian countries. Addressing the opening ceremony, Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Bosengkham Vongdara noted that tourism is an economic sector that is growing continuously and rapidly in many countries in Asia and worldwide.

Lao’s tourism troubles The ASEAN Post 30th May 2019
Local reports quoted Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Bosengkham Vongdala as telling a parliament session that the goal of attracting five million tourists by the years end would not be realised. Vongadala believes the main reason behind the slowdown is the dam collapse incident in Champasak province coupled with floods and natural disasters. He also sited the slow development of traffic infrastructure for tourist destinations due to capital shortage, limited supply of air travel services, the slow upgrade of tourism sites, and slow process of adjusting local entry and exit regulations as contributing to this issue. The article also points to Islamic tourism as a possible solution.