Laos Update: August 23, 2019

Laos Update | August 23, 2019
Authors: Shay Wester, Ella Duangkaew
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
October 17-18: 2019 Laos Business Mission: Please save the date for the Council's annual Business Mission to Laos from October 17-18. This will be immediately followed by the Council's annual Business Mission to the ASEAN Telecommunications and ICT Ministers Meetings (TELMIN), which will take place in Vientiane, Laos from October 21-25. The first planning call for the 2019 TELMIN Business Mission will take place on September 6 from 9-10 AM SGT (click here for more information and to register). For more information or to reserve a spot on either Mission, please contact Ella Duangkaew at eduangkaew@usasean.org
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

World Bank Projects Positive Economic Growth for Laos with Growing Infrastructure and Power Projects

In its Economic Monitor Reports for August (full report found here), the World Bank has projected that Laos will experience 6.5% economic growth, up from 6.3% in 2018. The report credits this favorable short-to-medium growth outlook to large investment inflows into major transportation infrastructure projects such as the Lao-China Railway and the Vientiane-Vangvieng Expressway, and the potential for increased energy production and exports from large power projects like the Xayaburi Hydropower Project. All of these projects continue to progress with high priority from the Government. For example, Prime Minister Thoungloun Sisoulith recently visited Vangvieng to urge for proactive developmental efforts on the aforementioned expressway and railway projects; and the Ministry of Energy Mines recently dismissed allegations that the Xayaburi dam was causing drops in Mekong River water levels, giving the project continued official support.

The report also recognizes the Government's commitments to fiscal consolidation to manage public debt, primarily by reducing public spending and improving tax and revenue collection, and predicts the budget deficit will reduce to 4.3% of GDP compared to 4.4% in 2018.

In terms of risks to growth, the report does predict gradual declines in the mining sector, which served as a major source of production and investment for the country in the past. According to the Laotian Times, the report also indicates there could be negative spillover effects from external factors impacting Laos’ trade partners that could impact the domestic economy; these factors include ongoing trade war tensions, continued tightening of global financing conductions and heighted geopolitical uncertainty. The report also indicates that domestic factors such as slow progress on reforms regarding business, economic diversification, revenue and expenditure and public financial management can also serve as risks to projected growth. The report urges the Government to progress on reforms in these areas to improve the business environment and generate greater macroeconomic stability, create jobs, reduce poverty and ensure that there are reserve buffers to respond to shocks.

Laos appears to be on the right track towards positive growth, particularly given the Government’s continued prioritization of infrastructure and power projects that are likely to lead to increased production, exports and investment. It will be crucial for the Government to take proactive steps to progress on reforms that create a more enabling business environment, and to continue to further attract major investments and projects.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Cambodia Urges Laos to Speed Up Electricity Transmission
Laos, Thailand To Build Another Friendship Bridge
Vietnam’s Party, State Leader Nguyen Phu Trong Welcomes Lao Counterpart

National Affairs
Government Officials Trained On Project Proposal Writing
Recognizing Women’s Contribution On World Humanitarian Day 2019 In Lao PDR
PM Thongloun Tells Vang Vieng to Clean Up
Turkey Reaches Out to Laos amid Asia-focused Policy
Govt priorities disaster recovery program
Seven missing after Huaphan landslide
A Year On, 70% of Attapeu Flood Victims Return Home
Floods Cause Over 11 Billion Kip In Damages For Luang Pranang’s Nan
Lao PDR Marks 9th Anniversary Of Convention On Cluster Munitions
Switzerland Opens Funds For Cultural Expressions In Laos
International World Day Against Trafficking In Persons Marked
Laos targets removal of UXO from over 90,000 hectares
Laos: 70 Years Of The 1949 Geneva Conventions Commemorated

Customs
Vietnam and Laos promote border trade cooperation
Border trade offers an economic escape route
EU-Vietnam trade deal shows EU will bend human rights standards if the price is right | ASEAN Today
Stopping human trafficking in Lao
Laos, Indonesia elevate business cooperation
Dozens of live pangolins found hidden on bus in Vietnam
Cambodia and Laos casinos targeted for drug-trade money laundering
Tiger cubs found frozen to death in back of smuggler’s car

Defense & Security
Defense Policy Exchange Spotlights Vietnam-Laos Military Cooperation

Economics
Labor Imbalance Causes Unemployment in Laos
World Bank Projects Positive Economic Growth for Laos
Laos to issue bonds to tackle fiscal deficit
WB optimistic about economic growth in Laos
Maintaining Economic Stability In Lao PDR

Energy
Dirty deeds of the clean energy sector: Investors urged to step up
Confronting Property Rights and Wrongs in Laos
Dam Break in Northeast Laos Causes Heavy Losses For Locals, Builder
Xayaburi Dam Clear of Blame, Says Lao Government
Damming the Mekong Basin to Environmental Hell
Thai government urged not to buy power from Laos dam

Financial Services
Laos’ LDB to enhance collaboration with int’l partner
Electronic system helps Laos' govt to boost revenue
Lao central bank advised to strictly regulate money changers
Insurers called upon to help victims of Laos dam collapse
Bank Mandiri to expand business in Laos, Cambodia
Illegal Currency Exchange Services Causing Price Hikes
Party leadership approves additional measures to boost economy in Laos

Food & Agriculture
Severe Drought in Mekong Region Reduces Rice Planting in Laos
Lao farmers stand to lose millions of kip from caterpillar infestation
Laos transforming farming to meet needs of Asean market
FDA expands pork importation ban list
IFAD Stresses Importance Of Investing In Smallholder Farmers In Laos
PM Receives IFAD President

Health & Life Sciences
Laos, China extend partnership in treatment of cardiovascular disease
Phu Bia Mining Facilitates The Donation Of Medical Supplies To Community Health Centers In Xaysomboun
Lao Doctors Urged to Provide Correct Dengue Treatment
Lao gov't stresses need for correct treatment of dengue
World Hepatitis Day 2019 Highlights “Investing In Eliminating Hepatitis

ICT
Vietnam, Laos seek to improve press activities in digital era
Laos to Develop Localized Office Software with Korean Support

Infrastructure
Laos initiates reform of public investment management
PM Urges Developers Achieve Laos-China Railway Construction As Planned
Water Flow From China’s Jinghong Dam To Decrease
First Freight Train Service Launched from Laos
Laos needs more exports for freight train to Thailand
Hot on the tracks of China-Laos railway construction
Work on Mekong railway bridge running ahead of schedule
Main section of Laos-China railway bridge completed
Lao Airlines to launch Vientiane-Kumamoto service in November

Travel & Tourism
Lao Handicrafts Promoted Through Tourism
Construction of New, Mega Cultural Park in Vientiane Commences
Newly explored cave could be Laos’ largest
Lao PM rejects unsustainable tourism projects in Vang Vieng
Charter flights set to bolster tourism between Hangzhou, Vientiane
Visit Laos-China Year bringing in more tourists: official
Laos Announces Third UNESCO World Heritage Site
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Cambodia Urges Laos to Speed Up Electricity Transmission Laotian Times 22nd Aug 2019
Cambodia has asked Laos to speed up the transmission of electricity that it purchased earlier this year. Cambodia’s Electricite du Cambodge (EDC) signed an agreement in March to purchase 200 MW from Laos from 2019 to 2021. “We hope that Laos will be ready to transmit the energy very soon so that we can avoid a power shortage next year,” said Cambodia’s Commerce Minister Mr. Pan Sorasak during a meeting on August 20 in Phnom Penh with Lao Ambassador Amphay Kidavong.

Laos, Thailand To Build Another Friendship Bridge Laotian Times 20th Aug 2019
Laos and Thailand are considering the construction of one more friendship bridge to connect the two countries in a move that would link Vientiane Province and Loei. The governor of Vientiane Province, Mr. Khamphan Sithidampha told reporters on August 16 that Vientiane provincial authorities had proposed the project to the government for its consideration. “We are conducting a study on the location of the bridge, to decide whether it should be in Sanakham or Meun district,” Mr. Khamphan, as quoted by Vientiane Times.

Vietnam’s Party, State Leader Nguyen Phu Trong Welcomes Lao Counterpart KPL: Lao News Agency 14th Aug 2019
Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong hosted a reception for his Lao counterpart Bounnhang Vorachit in Hanoi on August 9. The leaders congratulated the other country on its important achievements in external and internal affairs after more than three years of implementing resolutions of the national congresses of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) and the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP). They expressed their belief that under the leadership of the CPV and LPRP, both countries will continue gaining greater accomplishments in the cause of national reform, construction and defence, as well as implement successfully the targets set by the national congresses of each Party.

National Affairs

Government Officials Trained On Project Proposal Writing KPL: Lao News Agency 20th Aug 2019
The Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs sponsored a three-week training course on “Project Proposal Writing and Presentation” for 19 Lao government officials from Jul 29 to Aug 16. The course, held at the Laos-Singapore Cooperation Centre in Vientiane, was conducted by Mr Abdul Razak Bin Ahmad from Globalab, Singapore. The course was aimed at providing participants with the ability to appreciate the importance of good project design that is aligned to state goals, understand and practice the fundamentals of project formulation that impact project proposals, understand the principles of good professional writing, acquire professional presentation skills that could effectively seek buy-ins and approvals for the project.

Recognizing Women’s Contribution On World Humanitarian Day 2019 In Lao PDR KPL: Lao News Agency 19th Aug 2019
The United Nations in the Lao PDR joined the world in recognizing the importance of humanitarian work and highlighting the active impact of women humanitarians. Humanitarian activities are crucial for timely crisis response when cooperation is key to saving lives and restoring livelihoods from the losses they suffered. The Humanitarian Country Team is established in the Lao PDR to perform these activities. After the ravaging floods in 2018 this team managed to mobilize US$8 million, including US$3.5 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund, to implement the Disaster Response Plan complementing the government’s actions to remedy the damage.

PM Thongloun Tells Vang Vieng to Clean Up Laotian Times 12th Aug 2019
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and his retinue made a working visit to Vang Vieng last week to assess the district and offer advice on how to better develop the tourist town. The PM met with Vang Vieng District Governor Khamphong Douangvilay, and visited a number of development projects in the district, including the construction site of the Lao-China Railway, which will include a passenger platform in Vang Vieng upon completion. He noted that the cost of goods and services remains overly high in Vang Vieng, and the district faces problems with cleanliness and orderliness, noting that wastewater is still being dumped into rivers, according to an article in the Lao Post.

Turkey Reaches Out to Laos amid Asia-focused Policy Laotian Times 12th Aug 2019
Turkey’s ambassador to Laos has indicated he is hopeful relations between Turkey and Laos can be further strengthened amid his country’s new Asia-focused foreign policy. Speaking to Anadolu Agency on 11 August, Ahmet Idem Akay said the trade volume between the two countries increased from USD 6 million in 2017 to USD 15 million in 2018. “It was a good start, and there is potential too,” Akay added.

Govt priorities disaster recovery program Vientiane Times 7th Aug 2019
Despite budget constraints, disaster recovery remains a top priority for the government to sustain growth in the agriculture sector and alleviate poverty in local communities. Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Bounkhuang Khambounheuang, told Vientiane Times this week that the government will allocate some of its budget to addressing impacts stemming from natural disasters, particularly flooding and drought.

Seven missing after Huaphan landslide Vientiane Times 7th Aug 2019
Seven people are missing and two children were injured in the early hours of Saturday when a landslide struck in Viengxay district, Huaphan province, after more than two days of rain. District Governor Mr Phonsouk Inthavong told Vientiane Times yesterday that the landslide took place in Hindam village at 3am on Saturday, engulfing two houses and sending them into a river below.

A Year On, 70% of Attapeu Flood Victims Return Home Laotian Times 6th Aug 2019
About 70 percent of survivors have returned to their villages a year after the catastrophic dam collapse last year in Attapeu, amid ongoing efforts to rehabilitate flood victims. The disaster occurred on the night of July 23, 2018, when water poured over a saddle dam at the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy hydropower project in Champasack Province, leaving at least 70 people dead and over 14,000 living in emergency shelters. The floodwaters caused severe damage to private property and infrastructure. Governor of Attapeu Province, Leth Sayaphone, said at a press conference on the state of affairs in Sanamxay District last week that over the past year progress had been made on the rehabilitation of flood victims, with the construction of housing now complete, as well as restoration of necessary infrastructure including electricity and groundwater. “More than 10,000 have returned home while over 4,400 are living in temporary shelters,” said Governor Leth.

Floods Cause Over 11 Billion Kip In Damages For Luang Pranang’s Nan KPL: Lao News Agency 1st Aug 2019
Damages caused by Tuesday’s floods in Nan district, Luang Prabang province have been estimated at over 11 billion kip, approximately US$1.2 million. Heavy rain made the Nan burst its banks causing flash floods in eight villages of Nan district on Jul 30. The eight villages included Nafai, Nalao, Paphai, Sibounheuang, Simoungkhoun, Phonhin, Nakheun and Thad.

Lao PDR Marks 9th Anniversary Of Convention On Cluster Munitions KPL: Lao News Agency 31st Jul 2019
The 1st of August is a significant day for the Lao PDR – the most bombarded country per capita in the world - as it marks the anniversary of the Entry into Force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and this year commemorates its ninth anniversary. The Convention on Cluster Munitions is an international treaty that prohibits the production, use, transfer and storage of any form of cluster munitions. To commemorate the anniversary, the Government of the Lao PDR, UNDP, development partners and other Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) sector stakeholders came together at an event organised at the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in Vientiane.

Switzerland Opens Funds For Cultural Expressions In Laos KPL: Lao News Agency 30th Jul 2019
The government of Switzerland has launched an open public call for the Lao Culture Fund (LCF) which will provide funding opportunities and training for organizations, business or civil society to promote cultural expressions in the Lao PDR under the theme “Lao Culture By And for Lao People”. “The Lao Culture Fund is open to organizations, businesses or groups related to the creation, production and dissemination of cultural goods that enable large populations to take part in cultural life in Laos,” Mr Christoph Burgener, Director, Swiss Development Agency for Development and Cooperation to Laos, told a press conference in Vientiane on July 30.

International World Day Against Trafficking In Persons Marked KPL: Lao News Agency 29th Jul 2019
Over 200 government officials and representatives of international organizations turned out on Chao Fa Ngum Avenue in Vientiane Capital on Saturday, Jul 27, to join a walk celebrating International World Day against Trafficking in Persons. Among invited guests for the event included Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, Minister of Public Security Lt. Gen. Vilay Lakhamfong, representatives of diplomatic corps and international organisations. According to the International Labour Organisation, it is found that between 2016 and 2017, about 40 million people in the world who fell victim to modern slavery, of which 25 million people were in the form of forced labour and 15 million people in the form of forced marriage.

Laos targets removal of UXO from over 90,000 hectares Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 29th Jul 2019
The government has set a target to remove and destroy unexploded ordnance on 93,362 hectares of land, of which 9,179 hectares has already been cleared. The target was reported on Friday at a press conference held to mark the 9th anniversary on August 1 of the coming into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The event was led by Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Dr Khampheng Saysompheng, who is also chairman of the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) for UXO/Mine Action Sector Board. Dr Khampheng said 93,362 hectares of land had been identified as Confirmed UXO Hazardous Areas by a survey. To date, 9,179 hectares of land have been cleared but a huge area of 84,183 hectares is still partially contaminated. Throughout 2018, some 6,003 hectares of land were cleared and 91,468 cluster munitions destroyed. Three people died and 21 people were injured in UXO-related accidents. The widespread presence of UXO is an obstacle to Laos’ economic and social development, contaminating land that could otherwise be used for the development of agriculture, industry, tourism, and construction of infrastructure. From 2017-2021, the government and the UNDP in Laos are continuing to support the NRA to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 18 to remove UXO as an obstacle to development. During the Indochina War from 1964-1973, close to 3 million tonnes of ordnance was dropped on Laos, including about 270 million sub-munitions in the form of cluster bombs and about four million larger bombs. Tests done in the United States have found that these types of cluster munitions can have a failure rate of up to 30 percent. Vast tracts of land in Laos remain contaminated with UXO, amounting to a total of 87,000 square kilometres.

Laos: 70 Years Of The 1949 Geneva Conventions Commemorated KPL: Lao News Agency 25th Jul 2019
Representatives of the Government of the Lao PDR, the diplomatic community and Lao Red Cross gathered in Vientiane on July 25 to commemorate 70 years since the adoption of the 1949 Geneva Conventions. The four Geneva Conventions continue to inspire International Humanitarian Law (IHL) regulating armed conflict. IHL seeks to limit the suffering of persons not taking part in an armed conflict and restore the dignity of those no longer party to a conflict. In addition, IHL limits the kind of weapons and the way they are used.

Customs

Vietnam and Laos promote border trade cooperation Nhan Dan Online 15th Aug 2019
The Ministry of Industry and Trade in coordination with the Quang Tri provincial People's Committee organised a conference on July 26 to review the three-year implementation of the Vietnam - Laos Border Trade Agreement signed between the two Governments. At the conference, participants agreed that the agreement has brought about many positive results in many aspects.

Border trade offers an economic escape route Bangkok Post 15th Aug 2019
The ongoing border trade event, which has attracted a large number of business operators from neighbouring countries such as Laos and Myanmar to the border town of Mae Sai in Chiang Rai, is a testament to the potential of local trade in contributing to the regional economy. It's the first time that such a fair -- border trade -- is being held on such a big scale.

EU-Vietnam trade deal shows EU will bend human rights standards if the price is right | ASEAN Today ASEAN Today 15th Aug 2019
Since the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) was signed in Hanoi in June, states across Southeast Asia are looking to push forward trade deals of their own with the regional bloc. But as the European Union (EU) holds its trading partners to human and labour rights standards, other ASEAN nations may have to advance domestic reforms before inking any deals. 

Stopping human trafficking in Lao The ASEAN Post 15th Aug 2019
According to the Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2016, published by the UN Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), more than 85 percent of victims were trafficked from within the region. The Walk Free Foundation’s Global Slavery Index 2016 states that within Southeast Asia, Thailand is the leading destination for trafficked victims from Cambodia, Lao, and Myanmar.

Laos, Indonesia elevate business cooperation Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 15th Aug 2019
Business cooperation between Laos and Indonesia has been elevated and business-to-business collaboration is being fostered on the lines of the close cooperation between the two governments, a minister has said.  “We are especially broadening business opportunities for state-owned enterprises between the two countries,” Dr Kikeo Chanthabury, the Lao Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, said...

Dozens of live pangolins found hidden on bus in Vietnam The Telegraph 30th Jul 2019
Dozens of live pangolins smuggled from Laos were discovered "dehydrated and weak" on a bus in central Vietnam, police and conservationists said Tuesday, in a country where the endangered mammals are a highly-prized delicacy. The small, docile pangolin is the most trafficked animal in the world, and is found across Asia and Africa, with one snatched from the wild every five minutes, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Cambodia and Laos casinos targeted for drug-trade money laundering Nikkei Asian Review 30th Jul 2019
Anti-narcotic investigators are searching for signs of money laundering in the casinos that have spread across Sihanoukville, a Cambodian coastal city that has become a magnet for Chinese high-rollers, amid the booming methamphetamine market in Southeast Asia. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates the region's meth market -- Southeast Asia is the world's epicenter of the synthetic drug -- to be valued at $ 61.4 billion annually, more than double the Cambodian economy of $24 billion.

Tiger cubs found frozen to death in back of smuggler’s car New York Post 29th Jul 2019
Seven tiger cubs were found frozen to death in the back of a car after allegedly being smuggled by wildlife traffickers. Nguyen Huu Hue was arrested after the rare animals were discovered in his vehicle at a car park in Hanoi, Vietnam on Thursday. Huu Hue is believed to have smuggled the animals in using a well-worn smuggling route from neighboring Laos for years, Vietnamese state media said.

Defense & Security

Defense Policy Exchange Spotlights Vietnam-Laos Military Cooperation The Diplomat 29th Jul 2019
Last week, Vietnam and Laos held what was officially characterized as a new defense policy exchange between the two countries. The interaction spotlighted some of the ongoing efforts by the two sides to continue to make inroads in their security ties in spite of the challenges that remain and amid other domestic and foreign policy developments.

Economics

Labor Imbalance Causes Unemployment in Laos Laotian Times 19th Aug 2019
An imbalance in the supply and demand of labor in some sectors poses a challenge for Laos in its efforts to tackle rising unemployment. “The government has acknowledged that there is a mismatch in the supply and demand of workers in some areas,” Vientiane Times reported on August 19. “This poses a challenge for the government in its attempts to lower the unemployment rate.” In particular, the construction industry in Laos is suffering from a shortage of Lao workers, the paper added, quoting a study by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.

World Bank Projects Positive Economic Growth for Laos Laotian Times 15th Aug 2019
The World Bank has projected that economic growth in Laos is expected to recover 6.5 percent in 2019, from 6.3 percent in the previous year, mainly driven by strong investment inflows to large infrastructure projects, including the Lao-China railway. However, the medium-term outlook of the economy is subject to downside risks amid domestic and global uncertainty such as trade tensions among major economies, the bank said in the Lao PDR Economic Monitor Reports for August.

Laos to issue bonds to tackle fiscal deficit Phnom Penh Post 15th Aug 2019
The Lao government plans to sell more domestic bonds in the local currency in an attempt to address the fiscal deficit and strengthen the national capital market. Over the past five months of this year, the government has sold 1.13 trillion kip ($130 million) worth of domestic bonds, equal to 28.89 per cent of the amount targeted in the plan for this year, according to a recent report from the Ministry of Finance.

WB optimistic about economic growth in Laos Xinhua 13th Aug 2019
The World Bank is optimistic about economic growth in Laos, which is projected to rebound to 6.5 percent in 2019, rising from 6.3 percent recorded in 2018. Despite continued fiscal tightening, the pickup is expected to be driven by robust investment in mega infrastructure projects including the China-Laos railway, according to the World Bank's Lao Economic Monitor released on Monday in Lao capital Vientiane.

Maintaining Economic Stability In Lao PDR KPL: Lao News Agency 12th Aug 2019
Economic growth in the Lao PDR is projected to rebound to 6.5 per cent in 2019, up from 6.3 per cent in 2018. Growth is expected to be driven by the construction sector, supported by investments in large infrastructure projects, and a resilient services sector, led by wholesale and retail trade growth. Against the backdrop of challenging domestic and external environments, the government has remained committed to fiscal consolidation by tightening public expenditure and improving revenue administration, according to the lasted edition of the World Bank’s Lao Economic Monitor, released today, Aug 12.

Energy

Dirty deeds of the clean energy sector: Investors urged to step up Eco-Business 15th Aug 2019
From the violation of indigenous people’s rights to death threats and child labour, the renewable energy sector has been called out for its dirty deeds in the realm of human rights. When it comes to attacks and intimidation of human rights defenders, the sector is the third-worst, coming in only behind the mining and agribusiness sectors, said the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO).

Confronting Property Rights and Wrongs in Laos The Diplomat 15th Aug 2019
When, on July 23 last year, an auxiliary dam of the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy hydropower complex in southern Laos collapsed, the torrent unleashed rolled through tens of kilometers of land, even gushing into neighboring Cambodia. At least 71 people were killed (the ruling communist party has yet to even given a final death count) while thousands were left homeless.

Dam Break in Northeast Laos Causes Heavy Losses For Locals, Builder Radio Free Asia 8th Aug 2019
Heavy monsoonal rains in northeastern Laos ripped through a small one-megawatt hydropower dam in Xieng Khouang province’s Pek district earlier this week, causing extensive damage and flooding rice fields and property, local residents said Wednesday. “Because of heavy rainfall and too much water, the dam couldn’t handle it, so it burst causing great losses and flooding 30 hectares (74 acres) of rice field and fish ponds,” said a villager who lives near the dam site.

Xayaburi Dam Clear of Blame, Says Lao Government Laotian Times 7th Aug 2019
The Lao government has dismissed allegations that the Xayaburi dam in northern Laos is one of the reasons for the sharp drop in water levels in the downstream stretches of the Mekong River. “The dam is built on the run-of-river model, which does not require as much water to be stored,” said Mr. Somphith Keovichith, Lao Director General of the Department of Energy Business under the Ministry of Energy and Mines, as quoted by Vientiane Times.

Damming the Mekong Basin to Environmental Hell Project Syndicate 2nd Aug 2019
Major dam construction projects have become a favorite pastime of some autocratic governments, with China leading the way. But, far from protecting against water shortages, as supporters promise, large dams are contributing to river depletion and severely exacerbating parched conditions. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the basin of the Mekong River, which is running at a historically low level.

Thai government urged not to buy power from Laos dam CNA 26th Jul 2019
The Thai government must suspend plans to buy electricity from a dam in Laos, conservationists said on Friday (Jul 26), as water levels along the kingdom's section of Mekong river plummet to near-record lows. The Thai-built Xayaburi dam, a few hours from the northern Laos town of Luang Prabang, is set to be completed in October, the latest in a welter of barriers across the waterway.

Financial Services

Laos’ LDB to enhance collaboration with int’l partner Phnom Penh Post 15th Aug 2019
Alipay is available for use by Lao and foreigners at the state-owned Lao Development Bank (LDB). The bank is also preparing to step up cooperation with international partners overseas and is expected to list on the Lao Securities Exchange at some point in the future. LDB has cooperated with China’s UnionPay and Alipay, both leading transaction technologies, and some foreign subsidiary financial institutions and Chinese bank operations in Laos, for kip and yuan transactions.

Electronic system helps Laos' govt to boost revenue Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 15th Aug 2019
Revenue earned from taxes increased by 20 percent in the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Finance. The increase followed the introduction of the new tax revenue management information system (TAXRIS) earlier this year. So far, the system is operating in 10 major towns in seven provinces of Laos. 

Lao central bank advised to strictly regulate money changers Phnom Penh Post 15th Aug 2019
The Bank of the Lao PDR (BoL) should not merely issue warnings to money changers who break the currency regulation rules, a senior Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) official said last week. The remarks were made during a consultative meeting between public and private sector representatives in Vientiane to discuss foreign exchange rates and other topics related to public services to ease business operations.

Insurers called upon to help victims of Laos dam collapse Insurance Business 15th Aug 2019
On July 23, 2018, an auxiliary dam that was part of the Xe Pian-Xe Namnoy hydropower complex collapsed, causing 71 fatalities and displacing thousands from their homes. Two international organisations, Inclusive Development International and International Rivers, urged several large insurance companies, including AIG, Samsung Fire & Marine, and Korean Re, to honour their end of the insurance contracts.

Bank Mandiri to expand business in Laos, Cambodia Antara News 2nd Aug 2019
With both Laos and Cambodia looking to become potential financial markets, an Indonesian-owned bank of PT Bank Mandiri (Persero) Tbk is focusing on expanding its business to these two Southeast Asian markets. "Prospects are more open in those two countries as they have just started to develop," Bank Mandiri Corporate Secretary Rohan Nafas said here, Friday.

Illegal Currency Exchange Services Causing Price Hikes Laotian Times 12th Aug 2019
A senior Lao government official has warned that unregistered currency exchange services that violate currency regulations must be punished. A number of foreign currency exchange services in Laos are openly flouting regulations, exacerbating the fluctuation of exchange rates, Vice President of Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI,) Ms Valy Vetsaphong said during a consultative meeting between public and private sector representatives on 6 August.

Party leadership approves additional measures to boost economy in Laos Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 29th Jul 2019
The Party Central Committee of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party has resolved to plug loopholes in order to prevent revenue leaks along with imposing harsher penalties on officials involved in financial misappropriation. This was part of the additional measures package the committee resolved to adopt at its 8th plenary session. Party Secretary General Bounnhang Vorachit, who is the President of the Lao PDR, recently signed the resolution on behalf of the committee. The plenary session agreed to accelerate work to modernise revenue and expenditure management systems, while maximising revenue sourced from land, mining, and services.

Food & Agriculture

Severe Drought in Mekong Region Reduces Rice Planting in Laos ReliefWeb 15th Aug 2019
Lao farmers have planted rice on less than half the country’s cultivable land this year because of a persistent drought in the Mekong River region that has seen severely reduced water levels and the delay of seasonal monsoon rains, which have yet to begin. Growers have been able to plant rice on roughly 40 percent of the country’s 850,000 cultivable hectares, according to a recent announcement by Laos’ Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Lao farmers stand to lose millions of kip from caterpillar infestation Phnom Penh Post 15th Aug 2019
Sweetcorn farmer Sengchanh Vilaylak has incurred losses to the tune of more than 20 million kip ($2,300) this year after his crop was severely impacted by the current epidemic of fall armyworms in Laos’ Xayaboury province. Sengchanh’s family is among the 150 who plant corn as their primary commercial crop, a significant source of income for the people of Paklai district’s Saenphon village.

Laos transforming farming to meet needs of Asean market Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 15th Aug 2019
The government is transforming the farming system in Laos from subsistence to commercial crop production to meet the needs of the Asean market and to help Lao farmers cope with changes in regional agricultural and food markets. 

FDA expands pork importation ban list UNTV News 5th Aug 2019
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded its list of countries temporarily banned from exporting pork meat and other pork products to the Philippines due to suspected cases of the African Swine Fever (ASF). In a list released recently, the FDA added four more countries, namely North Korea, Hong Kong, Germany and Laos to the list of countries whose pork products have been barred from entering the Philippines. In the previous months, the FDA issued Order No. 2018-133 and Order No. 2019-045 in line with the memorandum orders of the Department of Agriculture, temporarily banning pork meat from several countries reportedly hit with the ASF. These nations include China, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Vietnam, Zambia, South Africa, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Mongolia, Moldova and Belgium. The FDA reiterated in its advisory that it does not allow the registration of processed pork meat products from these suspected ASF-infected countries. The agency added that a heightened post-marketing surveillance and audit is also being conducted on all concerned establishments to ensure full compliance to the foregoing FDA orders. “At the same time, to hold violators liable under Republic Act 9711 (Food Administration Act of 2009), Republic Act 10611 (Food Safety Act of 2013) and other pertinent laws, rules and regulations, all in the interest of protecting public health and safety,” the FDA said. “The public is advised to exercise extreme caution in purchasing and consuming processed pork meat products and is advised to only consume pork meat products which are sourced from countries other than the above listed countries suspected to be affected by ASF virus, and registered with the FDA,” it further stated. Local meat processors have earlier assured that products made in the country are safe for human consumption and are not containing meat and other materials imported from ASF-infected countries.

IFAD Stresses Importance Of Investing In Smallholder Farmers In Laos KPL: Lao News Agency 25th Jul 2019
The President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Mr. Gilbert F. Houngbo, visited the Lao PDR during 22-25 July 2019. During the visit, he met with Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, as well as representatives of UN teams in the country to discuss investments that can improve food and nutrition security, generate employment and mitigate the effects of climate change in rural areas. The visit focused on the roles of smallholder farmers in improving household nutrition and food security.

PM Receives IFAD President KPL: Lao News Agency 25th Jul 2019
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith received in Vientiane on Jul 25 a courtesy call from the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development Gilbert F. Houngbo. IFAD President and his delegation are on a working visit to Laos between Jul 22 and 25. Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith highly valued the visit to Laos by Mr Gilbert F. Houngbo and his delegation as a contribution to strengthening the cooperation between the Lao PDR and IFAD especially on rural development, food security, and sustainable land and natural resource management.

Health & Life Sciences

Laos, China extend partnership in treatment of cardiovascular disease Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 15th Aug 2019
Lao doctors are working with their Chinese counterparts to develop their diagnostic skills and the treatment of heart disease, in response to the increasing number of cardiovascular conditions being identified across the country. As part of this, they are learning about modern forms of heart surgery through the use of video.

Phu Bia Mining Facilitates The Donation Of Medical Supplies To Community Health Centers In Xaysomboun KPL: Lao News Agency 8th Aug 2019
Phu Bia Mining (PBM) has facilitated the delivery of medical supplies to community healthcare centres in the Xaysomboun province villages of Nam Ngone, Nam Mo and Nasaysavang. Sourced from private donations in Queensland, Australia, the supplies will help community healthcare professionals deliver primary healthcare to those living in villages close to where the company operates. PBM Chairman, Mr Chanpheng Bounnaphol thanked the donors for their generosity, noting that it fits within the company’s commitment to making a meaningful and long-term contribution in its communities.

Lao Doctors Urged to Provide Correct Dengue Treatment Laotian Times 8th Aug 2019
Laos has advised health officials and medical staff to ensure that all dengue patients strictly follow the treatment plan provided by doctors. “In 2019, Lao health officials are facingthe highest number of dengue fever cases in recent years,” said Khampe Phongsavath, president of the Paediatrics Association of Laos, and a member of the dengue control and prevention team under Lao Ministry of Health, as quoted by Vientiane Times.

Lao gov't stresses need for correct treatment of dengue Xinhua 6th Aug 2019
Lao Health officials and medical staff have been advised to make sure that all dengue patients closely follow the treatment plan provided by doctors to ensure that they recover from the illness, local media reported Tuesday. Khampe Phongsavath, president of the Paediatrics Association of Laos, and a member of the dengue control and prevention team under Lao Ministry of Health, on Saturday talked to the media about the treatment of dengue.

World Hepatitis Day 2019 Highlights “Investing In Eliminating Hepatitis KPL: Lao News Agency 29th Jul 2019
In Laos in 2015, over 8,000 people died because of this kind of long term Hepatitis virus infection. About 41% of cancer deaths are caused by liver cancer. There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E. Hepatitis viruses B and C, in particular, are major causes of illness and death.

ICT

Vietnam, Laos seek to improve press activities in digital era vietnamplus.vn 26th Jul 2019
The Vietnam Journalists Association (VJA) and the Lao Journalists Association (LJA) co-organised an international workshop in the central province of Nghe An from July 25-28 to discuss ways to improve press activities in the era of digital communications. The event aims to strengthen the friendship and cooperation between the two associations under already signed agreements.

Laos to Develop Localized Office Software with Korean Support Laotian Times 9th Aug 2019
South Korean software developer Hancom has announced that it will support Laos to develop localized office software. Currently, Microsoft’s MS Word and MS Office, as well as Google’s Google Docs suite of office software are widely used in Laos.

Infrastructure

Laos initiates reform of public investment management Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 15th Aug 2019
Government officials gathered with representatives of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japanese Embassy to Laos in Vientiane on Friday to discuss improvements in the field of public investment management (PIM). Participants discussed the structure of the proposed committee to lead this project, along with the outline and development timeframe of the PIM improvement action plan.

PM Urges Developers Achieve Laos-China Railway Construction As Planned KPL: Lao News Agency 12th Aug 2019
Prime Minister has urged developers in Vangvieng district, Vientiane province, to achieve as planned the construction of the Laos-China Railway. He called on the constructors to make sure the railway construction meets quality standards, is in accordance with approved design and harmonious with environment, particularly with tourist attractions in the district. Inspecting the construction site of the Vangvieng Station of the Laos China Railway was among activities included in his guidance visit schedule for Vangvieng to encourage development in the locality.

Water Flow From China’s Jinghong Dam To Decrease KPL: Lao News Agency 7th Aug 2019
The outflow of water from the Jinghong hydropower station in China’s Yunnan province will decrease by about 25-45 per cent over five days, according to an official notification from China’s Ministry of Water Resources being copied to the Mekong River Commission Secretariat on Monday. In the notification, the Ministry said the amount of water from the Jinghong dam will start decreasing from 1,100 cubic meters per second (m3/s) to about 600-800 m3/s from August 11 – 15 before it will be gradually returned to the original level. The decrease is made for the “maintenance for the transmission lines of the power grid” the notification said. The Jinghong dam lies on the upper part of the Mekong River, where it is known as the Lancang in China.

First Freight Train Service Launched from Laos Laotian Times 2nd Aug 2019
The first freight train service to and from Laos was launched yesterday, with a shipment of Beerlao crossing the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge. Cargo from a container yard at Thanaleng Railway Station in Vientiane, Laos, can now be shipped by train as far as the Laem Chaban seaport in Thailand. Until now, trains to and from Vientiane carried passengers only across the 3.5km track, while freight was carried across the border to Nong Khai by truck.

Laos needs more exports for freight train to Thailand Xinhua 13th Aug 2019
The newly launched cross-border freight train service between Laos and Thailand requires more cargo shipments from Laos to reduce an imbalance of trade. The train can carry 10 to 20 containers in and out of the country every day, but the number of exporters is smaller than the number of importers. This is a problem that the parties involved must address by working together, the Vientiane Times daily reported on Tuesday.

Hot on the tracks of China-Laos railway construction Global Times 6th Aug 2019
The 9,020-meter Ban Konlouang Tunnel is the second-longest tunnel along the China-Laos railway in northern Laos, and is currently being constructed by China Railway No. 5 Engineering Group (CREC-5). With harsh geological conditions including faults, underground rivers, water inrush and mud, the tunnel construction site is known as the "Geological Museum". The construction has been listed as a key bottleneck of the railway project.

Work on Mekong railway bridge running ahead of schedule Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 30th Jul 2019
The companies in charge of the bridge and railway construction project on Sunday invited local and foreign media to attend a ceremony to celebrate the connection of the two sides of the bridge. The connection was completed seven months ahead of schedule, significantly accelerating the overall construction of the 414-km railway, which is slated for completion in 2021, according to information made available at the ceremony. The 1,458.9-metre long bridge spans the Mekong between central Luang Prabang and the other side of the river in Chomphet district. The bridge has five main piers including 34 spans planted in the river.

Main section of Laos-China railway bridge completed Khmer Times 30th Jul 2019
With the concrete beam of the last span over Mekong River in place, the main section of Luang Prabang cross-Mekong River railway bridge was completed on Sunday, seven months ahead of schedule. The completion of the Luang Prabang Mekong River Super Major Bridge, one of the two cross-Mekong bridges along the China-Laos Railway, indicates that the railway project construction has made major progress in the 2019 civil engineering schedule. The 1,458.9-meter bridge lies in the north of the former royal city of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site, nearly 220 kilometers north of the capital Vientiane. It has five main piers including 34 spans along the Mekong River.

Lao Airlines to launch Vientiane-Kumamoto service in November The Japan Times 26th Jul 2019
Lao Airlines said Thursday it is planning to launch regular flights in November connecting the Laotian capital of Vientiane and the resort town of Luang Prabang with Kumamoto in Kyushu. The route will offer the first regular flights connecting Japan and Laos. Lao Airlines President Bounma Chanthavongsa said in a news conference in Kumamoto that his airline is preparing to file an application for the planned service with Japan’s transport ministry.

Travel & Tourism

Lao Handicrafts Promoted Through Tourism KPL: Lao News Agency 16th Aug 2019
The annual event Lao Handicrafts Festival 2019 themed “Promote Lao Handicrafts Through Tourism” has been scheduled to take place at the Lao-ITECC, Vientiane on Oct 26- Nov 3, 2019. President of the Lao Handicraft’s Association Hansana Sisan told a press conference in Vientiane on August 15 that the festival has been held every year since 2001, and this year was its 18th edition. The objective of the festival is to raise public awareness of preserving and promoting local handicrafts and culture.

Construction of New, Mega Cultural Park in Vientiane Commences Laotian Times 16th Aug 2019
Construction of Lanxang Cultural Park kicked off on August 9 with a ground-breaking ceremony for the project. It is expected to take about nine years to complete the USD 80 million-construction project, which is divided into three different phases.

Newly explored cave could be Laos’ largest Lifestyle.inq 15th Aug 2019
A group of Japanese experts say the little known Phaka cave in Namfeuang village, Maed district, Vientiane province, could be the largest cave in Laos. The cave, which is located on the Namfeuang River, has been explored by the Japanese over the past few months since March, an official at the Maed district Information, Culture and Tourism office, Mr Saydaen Sounlintha, told Vientiane Times yesterday.

Lao PM rejects unsustainable tourism projects in Vang Vieng Phnom Penh Post 15th Aug 2019
The Lao government will not grant permission to proposed tourism projects in Vang Vieng if no sustainable development plan is available or applicable, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has told local authorities. Some developers have submitted proposals to the cabinet seeking a green light to build tourism complexes in popular Vang Vieng district in Vientiane province.

Charter flights set to bolster tourism between Hangzhou, Vientiane Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 15th Aug 2019
The start of charter flights between Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, China, and Vientiane is expected to spark greater cooperation in tourism, trading and investment between Laos and China. A ceremony to inaugurate the new flight took place last week in Hangzhou.

Visit Laos-China Year bringing in more tourists: official Xinhua 30th Jul 2019
The Visit Laos-China Year 2019 tourism promotion has proved successful in driving up visitor numbers, local daily Vientiane Times on Tuesday quoted Lao tourism officials as saying. More than 2.2 million people visited Laos in the first six months of 2019, up about 5 percent compared to 2018, according to Tourism Development Department, Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

Laos Announces Third UNESCO World Heritage Site KPL: Lao News Agency 26th Jul 2019
Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Bosengkham Vongdara hosted a press conference on Jul 25 confirming UNESCO’s acknowledgement of the Plain of Jars, a megalithic archaeological landscape in Xiang Khuang Plateau, as a UNESCO’s World Heritage site. "I would like to express my deep gratitude to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, all members of the World Heritage Committee, advisory bodies and ICOMOS experts for precious contribution and support to the protection of this archaeological site as a common heritage of humanity, without their support, expertise, hard work this inscription would not have been possible, " said Minister Bosengkham Vongdara.