Laos Update: September 23, 2019

Laos Update | September 23, 2019
Authors: Ella Duangkaew, Jacob Corfman
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Government of Cambodia Buys 24,000 Mega-Watts from Government of Laos

On September 12th, the Laotian Times reported that the Cambodian Government agreed to purchase 24,000 Mega-Watts (MW) from Laos in a deal signed by Lao Minister Thongloun Sisoulith during his visit to Cambodia. This agreement substantially expands Laos’ export capacity, compared to the recent 2017 tripartite agreement between Thailand, Malaysia and Laos setting a goal to export 14,800 MW by 2025 to their neighbors through energy infrastructure connecting the three countries. For more information, see our Energy Update here. The new deal consists of 162% of the Mega-Wattage compared to the tripartite agreement, and only involves one other country, whereas the earlier deal involves two. A deal this size between Laos and Cambodia can imply that the amount of energy infrastructure may increase for the sub-region in the years to come, and how much of it Laos would get contracted for projects like these if all goes well. Deepening energy connectivity at the sub regional level can serve as a catalyst for improving the FDI competitiveness of lower Mekong region.

The deal was finalized during a Cambodian Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, September 11 following which a briefing document was uploaded to social media by Government spokesman Phay Siphan. The document states that Cambodia will buy the exclusive power from two coal plants: the TSBP Sekong Power and Mineral Company, where 600 MW will be derived, and the Xekong Thermal Power Plant Company where the other 1,800 MW will be derived. In total, the two projects’ investments will cost a projected $4.970 billion USD including coal mine infrastructure, power plants, sub-stations and transmission lines to the Cambodian-Lao border. In addition, the briefing document outlines the four phases of the deal in which the project will be executed: in 2024 300 MW will be generated, 600 MW by the end of 2025, another 600 MW ready to launch for 2026, and finally 900 MW by 2027 totaling 24,000 MW. Both firms have been cleared by the Laotian government to start the development of the coal mines, and plan to begin activities by 2024 in order to meet the terms of the agreement.

The deal demonstrates the Lao Government’s continued push to ensure greater investment and infrastructure for electricity exporting, particularly following the Government’s recent show of official support for the Xayaburi Hydropower Project this past August. This official support was given despite of, and dismissing, allegations that the project was causing drops in Mekong River water levels that could cause environmental harm (for more information, see here). The Government took similar actions following the Attapeu dam break in July of 2018, where they responded to the disaster by making an official statement on suspending any further investment in future dam projects until a national review of dams was conducted. The day after the review was announced, the Government instated a six-month regional consultation process for the Pak Lay dam in Xayaburi, exemplifying the premium the Government of Laos puts on becoming the ‘battery of Asia’. The difference in the Government’s policy shifting towards coal plants from hydropower plants may demonstrate the Government’s intent to expand their horizons in reaching their goals through more traditional energy methods as they have previously expressed. Moving forward, shifting priority from hydropower to coal may put less immediate risk on the surrounding environment and local peoples, though the efforts may be seen as less traditional in comparison to renewable energy initiatives undertaken by the majority of the global community.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Vietnamese and Lao provinces enhance cooperation
Lao-China Sci. And Tech. Exhibition To Be Held Next Month
PM Thongloun Begins Visit To Cambodia
Thailand-Laos extends trade relations across Mekong river
Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith visits the Kingdom of Cambodia

National Affairs
Flooding in Laos’ Southern Provinces Displaces 100,000, Kills at Least 28
Floods Kill At Least 14 in Southern Laos, Hundreds of Thousands Displaced
Laos Publishes First Penal Code

Defense & Security
Cambodia, Laos withdraw troops near border

Economics
Laos and Vietnam central banks bolster cooperation
Laos: EU supports inclusive and sustainable development with two new programmes worth €55 million
Lao Development Bank Announces Collaboration with Blockchain Payment Platform, Everex

Energy
Cambodia to Purchase 2,400MW Energy from Laos by 2027
Operations achieved at 290-MW hydropower plant between Laos and Thailand
Nam Ngiep Dam Officially Online

Financial Services
S&O activities: training on the anti-counterfeiting measures in Laos

Food & Agriculture
Why agriculture investment in Lao is lacking
Floods Last Year Cause Rice Prices in Laos to Double.
More investment needed for Laos to reap profits from agriculture: minister

Health & Life Sciences
ASF Laos: Virus spreads to most of the country

ICT
Laos Opens First Digital Forensics Lab to Tackle Cybercrime
U.S. Supports Tech Skills Training For Lao Youth
KT rolls out epidemic prevention app in Laos

Infrastructure
Nearly 80% of China-Laos Railway Project Completed
Are Laos’ Land-Linking Dreams a Risky Bet?
Xieng Khouang Airport Gets Russian-funded Upgrade

Manufacturing
Q4 2018 Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar Automotive Market Report: Regulations, Growth Indicators, and Forecasts - Myanmar and Cambodia Registered Positive Total Industry Volumes While Laos Fell Behind

Travel & Tourism
IFC agrees $87.5M loan for Vietnam, Lao tourism
Laos-Japan Friendship Park To Be Opened In Coming September
Laos to Offer Free Wi-Fi at Landmarks in Vientiane
Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam formulate tourism development plan
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Vietnamese and Lao provinces enhance cooperation Nhan Dan 23rd Sep 2019
Leaders of the two provinces informed each other of their socio-economic developments and the coordination in maintaining security and order and protecting the border, and also reviewed the results in the cooperation in all fields between the two localities in the recent years.

Lao-China Sci. And Tech. Exhibition To Be Held Next Month :: KPL :: Lao News Agency 16th Sep 2019
The Lao-China Science and Technology Exhibition, the first of its kind, will be held at the National Convention Centre in Vientiane Capital on Oct 11-16, 2019. The exhibition aims to enhance cooperation on science and technology between Laos and China, and to promote the transfer and application of successful researches with respect to advanced industry 4.0 technologies to increase productivity and product quality.

PM Thongloun Begins Visit To Cambodia :: KPL :: Lao News Agency 16th Sep 2019
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith arrived in Phnom Penh this morning for a two-day visit to Cambodia in response to the invitation of his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen to enhance the longstanding relations of traditional friendship, solidarity and cooperation between Laos and Cambodia.

Thailand-Laos extends trade relations across Mekong river Pattaya Mail 15th Sep 2019
Mukdahan – The Thailand-Laos Trade Festival is taking place to promote border trade between the two countries. The event features some 100 booths selling goods from 20 northeastern provinces of Thailand and also from Laos.

Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith visits the Kingdom of Cambodia The Laotian Times 12th Sep 2019
Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, in response to the invitation of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, is visiting the Kingdom of Cambodia during 12-13 September to strengthen traditional ties of friendship and solidarity, and enhance cooperation.

National Affairs

Flooding in Laos’ Southern Provinces Displaces 100,000, Kills at Least 28 ReliefWeb 20th Sep 2019
More than 580,000 people have been impacted and at least 28 have died in floods caused by heavy rains over the past two weeks in Laos’ southern provinces, according to estimates revised during a cabinet meeting this week. The death toll figure was reported by the Vientiane Times Thursday.

Floods Kill At Least 14 in Southern Laos, Hundreds of Thousands Displaced Radio Free Asia 11th Sep 2019
At least 14 people have died and at least one is missing as floods ravage Laos’ six southern provinces, stretching government relief capacity, authorities and residents said Wednesday.

Laos Publishes First Penal Code The Laotian Times 11th Sep 2019
Laos has officially published its Penal Code in a move to strengthen rule of law and access to justice in the country.

Defense & Security

Cambodia, Laos withdraw troops near border The Manila Times 2nd Sep 2019
Cambodia and Laos have begun to withdraw their troops from disputed territory near the border in Preah Vihear province after senior military officials from both nations have recently conducted bilateral negotiation.

Economics

Laos and Vietnam central banks bolster cooperation Phnom Penh Post 23rd Sep 2019
The central banks of Laos and Vietnam will enhance bilateral cooperation in information technology, technical matters and other important areas related to banking.

Laos: EU supports inclusive and sustainable development with two new programmes worth €55 million European Commission 23rd Sep 2019
During his first official visit to the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica reconfirmed the EU's commitment to working with the country's government to support sustainable development, especially in rural areas. On this occasion, Commissioner Mimica also launched two new programmes on nutrition and sustainable growth.

Lao Development Bank Announces Collaboration with Blockchain Payment Platform, Everex CryptoNewsZ 18th Sep 2019
EVX Holdings, the Singapore-based blockchain services provider, operating as Everex, has recently inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Lao Development Bank (LDB) aiming to establish a robust blockchain platform for seamless cross-border payments and trade finance.

Energy

Cambodia to Purchase 2,400MW Energy from Laos by 2027 The Laotian Times 12th Sep 2019
Cambodia has agreed to purchase 2,400MW of electricity from Laos by 2027, in a move to meet growing energy demand in the country.

Operations achieved at 290-MW hydropower plant between Laos and Thailand Power Engineering 11th Sep 2019
Kansai Electric Power Co. Inc. announces that the 290-MW Nam Ngiep 1 hydropower plant has begun commercial operations.

Nam Ngiep Dam Officially Online The Laotian Times 10th Sep 2019
The Nam Ngiep Dam, a hydropower investment by Japan’s Kansai Electric Power Company, has begun transmitting electricity.  With two power stations, the installation should produce 1.6 billion kilowatt-hours of energy each year.

Financial Services

S&O activities: training on the anti-counterfeiting measures in Laos Lexology 13th Sep 2019
On 9th August 2019, S&O held the training on anti-counterfeiting measures in association with the Laos Customs Department with attendance of thirty officials from various department throughout Vientiane Capital, including the Customs Department, Wattay International Airport Customs, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the Department of Science and Technology Vientiane and the Customs at Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge Border.

Food & Agriculture

Why agriculture investment in Lao is lacking The ASEAN Post 23rd Sep 2019
While the Lao PDR government recently called for increased investment in agriculture to boost its export market, there are several issues that have to be tackled before foreign investors come knocking.

Floods Last Year Cause Rice Prices in Laos to Double. Radio Free Asia 5th Sep 2019
The price of sticky rice is skyrocketing in Laos, in the wake of massive floods in one of the country’s most fertile regions and various other causes, amid rising prices of food in general due to the African swine flu epidemic that has ravaged China and Southeast Asia over the past year.

More investment needed for Laos to reap profits from agriculture: minister Xinhua 27th Aug 2019
As the demand for crops and livestock remains high, Laos needs more investment in agriculture to increase more product to export, according to a senior Lao official. Lao Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Bounkhuang Khambounheuang recently stressed the need for Laos to attract investment in agriculture in order to strengthen the export market.

Health & Life Sciences

ASF Laos: Virus spreads to most of the country PigProgress 30th Aug 2019
In recent days, a great number of updates from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) came through about the situation in the South East Asian country. The total number of reported African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks has gone up to 94, with culling numbers rising to almost 26,000.

ICT

Laos Opens First Digital Forensics Lab to Tackle Cybercrime Laotian Times 28th Aug 2019
Laos has opened the country’s first digital forensics lab, which will allow authorities to analyze more than 2,000 digital media-related criminal cases a year. The laboratory is designed to analyze digital evidence collected or resulting from, criminal investigations including transnational organized crime, cybercrime, and wildlife crime. The facility, which is equipped with cutting-edge technology for the identification, extraction, and analysis of digital evidence, will enable investigators to ensure the overall integrity and reliability of digital evidence while maintaining a proper chain-of-custody.

U.S. Supports Tech Skills Training For Lao Youth KPL: Lao News Agency 26th Aug 2019
On Aug 22, the U.S. Embassy partnered with the Lao tech-incubator firm TOH-LAO as well as top tech firms including Facebook to officially launch the AC STEM Lab – a training programme designed to cultivate and grow the number of highly skilled workers available for employment in the tech sector in Laos. The AC STEM Lab is a yearlong initiative at the American Center in Vientiane. It trains participants on skills like designing iPhone and Android apps, coding, web design, and business development – all to increase awareness and prepare young professionals to join the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in Laos. U.S. Ambassador Rena Bitter hosted the launch event, which welcomed special guests from Facebook Asia-Pacific Headquarters in Singapore, as well as business leaders and representatives from leading tech companies in the Lao PDR.

KT rolls out epidemic prevention app in Laos ZDNet 9th Sep 2019
South Korean telco KT has launched its epidemic prevention app in Laos, the company announced. The mobile carrier has been working with Lao health authorities and their counterparts in South Korea to launch the Global Epidemic Prevention Platform (GEPP) in Laos. GEPP will alert Laotians of nearby contagions, their symptoms, and how to avoid contracting them. Civilians that have visited affected areas can also report their symptoms to nearby health centres through the app.  The project will also allow the Laos government to collect data from GEPP app so that it can monitor contagion progression.

Infrastructure

Nearly 80% of China-Laos Railway Project Completed Khaosod English 23rd Sep 2019
Nearly 80 percent of the construction of the China-Laos railway has been completed, said Lao Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone on Saturday. The railway will serve as a key infrastructure for the economic corridor between the two countries and help boost trade, investment and tourism, said Sonexay at the China-ASEAN Expo held in Nanning, capital of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Are Laos’ Land-Linking Dreams a Risky Bet? The Diplomat 23rd Sep 2019
The Lao government is strongly pushing ahead with different projects to better connect the country to the main transport networks of the region and integrate it into global value chains. Laos’ landlocked position and natural topography has historically led to its isolation and been a serious obstacle for development. During the French period, the colonial authorities developed plans to “unblock” Laos’ economic potential by building a network of all-weather roads and railways to link it to Vietnam; however, those aspirations were never realized.

Xieng Khouang Airport Gets Russian-funded Upgrade The Laotian Times 13th Sep 2019
Xieng Khouang Province has renovated its airport in order to provide a smoother service for tourists who visit the Plain of Jars UNESCO World Heritage site. Funded by Russia, renovations include the installation of an electronic scanner and lights on the runway, improving the radar hall and the passenger building.

Manufacturing

Q4 2018 Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar Automotive Market Report: Regulations, Growth Indicators, and Forecasts - Myanmar and Cambodia Registered Positive Total Industry Volumes While Laos Fell Behind Yahoo Finance 6th Sep 2019
The "Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar Automotive Market Regulations, Growth Indicators, and Forecasts, Q4 2018" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering. This growth insight is part of an ongoing quarterly tracker that monitors the trends and the developments in the automotive markets in Asia-Pacific's emerging markets of Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar.

Travel & Tourism

IFC agrees $87.5M loan for Vietnam, Lao tourism Phnom Penh Post 17th Sep 2019
Bim Land Joint Stock Company, a property developer under BIM Group, has reached an agreement with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, for a loan of up to $87.5 million to develop tourism infrastructure in Vietnam and Laos.

Laos-Japan Friendship Park To Be Opened In Coming September :: KPL :: Lao News Agency 13th Sep 2019
The Laos-Japan Friendship Park has been expected to be opened for public use in coming September, one month before its handover. The park is located at Thana village, Sayaboury district, Sayaboury province. It is considered as a symbol of cooperation between Laos and Japan. The park features structures and houses built with Lao and Japanese architectural designs.

Laos to Offer Free Wi-Fi at Landmarks in Vientiane The Laotian Times 6th Sep 2019
Laos has launched a project to offer free Wi-Fi at landmarks in its capital Vientiane in a move to cater to not only the general public but also foreign visitors.

Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam formulate tourism development plan Xinhua 28th Aug 2019
Tourism officials from Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam (CLV) are discussing a draft plan on tourism development in the triangle area covering 13 provinces of the three countries. The talks are taking place in southern Laos' Champasak province, some 484 km south of Lao capital Vientiane during the third Working Group Meeting on Formulation of the Tourism Development Plan for CLV in the Development Triangle Area, from Monday to Thursday, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Wednesday.