Laos Update: October 15, 2019

Laos Update | October 15, 2019
Authors: Riley Smith, Ella Duangkaew and Jacob Corfman
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Governments of Laos and Vietnam Announce Eight MoUs in Joint Statement

H.E. Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of the Lao PDR visited Vietnam on October 1 through 3 to meet with Vietnamese Prime Minister, H.E. Nguyen Xuan Phuc, where they discussed methods to speed up the progress of the Vietnamese-funded Laos National Assembly building project and signed eight cooperative documents covering a variety of fields and topics. The areas discussed by the leaders included:

  • Continuing to work closely with one-another in terms of national defense and development through both a bilateral framework and through regional and international forums.
  • Maintaining contact through all levels and all channels in a more efficient manner in order to make sharing experiences more accessible when seeking solutions to difficulties and obstacles.
  • Continuing efforts to promote and enhance cooperation through economic, cultural, and technological lenses to build off each other’s strengths.
  • Pursuing joint efforts to reach a stable annual growth rate of 10 and 15 percent in trade value
  • Implementing cooperative education training and human resources development efforts
  • Coordinating to promote cooperation in the framework of the Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam development triangle and to continue the undertaking of the Action Plan for Cambodia-Laos-Vietnam Economic Connectivity
  • Broadening communication and closely coordinating with each other, related countries and international organizations in terms of management and sustainable use of the Mekong River
  • Affirming the importance of maintaining peace, stability, the rule of law, security, safety and freedom of navigation and aviation in East Sea, and of settling disputes in the East Sea by peaceful measures based on international law
The full joint statement between Laos and Vietnam can be found here in Vietnamese. Laos may have much to gain from closer cooperation with Vietnam, whose efforts to develop an enabling trade environment have led to the country’s substantial growth. However, this close cooperation may lead to Lao adoption of more worrisome Vietnamese approaches, such as their restrictive approaches to data governance and content regulation. It will be critical for Laos, as it looks to elevate above its least-developed country status in the next years, to carefully look at its’ larger neighbors’ approaches and adopt only those that enable growth and innovation in its economy.
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
ASEAN Strives For Strengthened Resilience in Disaster Management

National Affairs
New Programme Launched To Improve Competitiveness Of Agro-Microenterprises In Laos
Science And Technology Minister Receives UNESCO Guest
Chinese Cement Factory Blast Kills 1, Injures 20 in Laos
UN helps Laos engage in 2030 Agenda

Defense & Security
Laos, Cambodia Withdraw Troops From Disputed Area
New Military Facility Transfer Highlights Vietnam-Laos Defense Ties
Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam Hold Trilateral Security Meeting

E-Payments
BCEL, EV Lao to produce smart cards for electric vehicle charging payment

Economics
Central banks of Laos, Vietnam bolster cooperation
Laos, Vietnam plan business dialogue to boost investment, border trade

Energy
Chinese Support Gives Laos an Edge Over Powerful Neighbor Vietnam
Laos test-runs first turbine of Don Sahong hydropower plant
IAEA Signs Practical Arrangements for Triangular Cooperation with Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam
Provincial Official in Laos Wants to Cancel Concession for Chinese Coal Company
Laos to go ahead with Luang Prabang dam project despite warnings

Food & Agriculture
EDITORIAL: Imported rice is cheaper than rice grown in Laos

ICT
Cambodia’s Meal Temple launches ride-hailing app in Laos
Home-grown start-up launches ride-hailing service in Laos
Viettel to test 5G broadcast in Laos

Infrastructure
‘Infrastructure, tourism key for Laos’ economic growth’
Transport infrastructure: Connecting the world
Villagers in Laos Resist 50-year Land Concession to Thai Developer

Travel & Tourism
Second Sustainable Tourism Solutions Expo a Great Success
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

ASEAN Strives For Strengthened Resilience in Disaster Management KPL 8th Oct 2019
“ASEAN exerted solidarity through our regional mechanisms, such as the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER), ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance, and ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Teams. Yet much remains to be done to strengthen our resilience,” said Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Lim Jock Hoi.

National Affairs

New Programme Launched To Improve Competitiveness Of Agro-Microenterprises In Laos KPL 8th Oct 2019
Most recently, the Lao government and the United States launched the “Laos Microenterprise Project”, which is funded by the United States through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Science And Technology Minister Receives UNESCO Guest KPL 8th Oct 2019
Minister of Science and Technology Boviengkham Vongdara received in Vientiane on Sep 13 a courtesy call from Mr Benno Boer, Head of Natural Sciences, UNESCO.

Chinese Cement Factory Blast Kills 1, Injures 20 in Laos Radio Free Asia 6th Oct 2019
An explosion Saturday caused by rock blasting for a Chinese cement plant in northern Laos tore through a village, killing at least one person and injuring more than 20 others, residents said.

UN helps Laos engage in 2030 Agenda Xinhua 4th Oct 2019
Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) are continuing discussions on plans to advance coordination and integration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to help Laos engage in the 2030 Agenda.

Defense & Security

Laos, Cambodia Withdraw Troops From Disputed Area KPL 8th Oct 2019
Laos and Cambodia have withdrawn troops from the disputed border area located at E 0523410, N 1579776 in Mounlapamok district, Champassak province.

New Military Facility Transfer Highlights Vietnam-Laos Defense Ties The Diplomat 24th Sep 2019
Last week, Vietnam handed over a new office building to Laos. Though the development was just one among many in the capacity-building aspect of the defense relationship, it nonetheless highlighted the importance of the broader relationship between the two Southeast Asian countries.

Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam Hold Trilateral Security Meeting The Diplomat 24th Sep 2019
This week, representatives from the defense committees of the legislatures of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam met for another iteration of a security meeting. The engagement highlighted ongoing efforts by the three countries to advance collaboration in the defense domain in spite of the significant challenges that remain in doing so.

E-Payments

BCEL, EV Lao to produce smart cards for electric vehicle charging payment Xinhua 8th Oct 2019
Lao commercial bank Banque Pour Le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public (BCEL) and the EV Lao Co., Ltd. are partnering in the production of a smart card for the payment of charging costs for electric vehicles.

Economics

Central banks of Laos, Vietnam bolster cooperation Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 8th Oct 2019
Senior officials of the two banks met in Vientiane yesterday, led by Governor of the Bank of the Lao PDR (BOL), Mr Sonexay Sithphaxay, and Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam, Mr Le Minh Hung.

Laos, Vietnam plan business dialogue to boost investment, border trade Xinhua 3rd Oct 2019
The planned dialogue is part of the cooperation plan for 2019-2020 and was discussed at a recent meeting between the two sides in northern Lao Luang Prabang province, some 180 km north of Lao capital Vientiane, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Thursday.

Energy

Chinese Support Gives Laos an Edge Over Powerful Neighbor Vietnam Voice of America 15th Oct 2019
A Mekong River hydropower dam scheduled to open this month worries Vietnam because the country sits just downriver from it and would be threatened by lower water flows. Officials in Hanoi aren't wildly protesting to the dam's host country, Laos, however, because Vietnam knows Laos has support from their much larger neighbor, China. Vietnamese leaders instead are approaching Laos cautiously about the dam, out of fear the tiny landlocked country would seek more of that help from Beijing, Southeast Asia scholars say. Vietnam struggles to get along with China and resents Chinese expansion in other parts of Asia.

Laos test-runs first turbine of Don Sahong hydropower plant VietnamPlus 15th Oct 2019
Laos recently put the first of the four turbines of Don Sahong hydropower plant, one of the two projects the country is constructing in the mainstream of the Mekong River, into trial run. Addressing the ceremony, Lao Minister of Energy and Mines Khammany Inthirath said that the test before the schedule is a great achievement of the country. Under the plan, the Don Sahong hydropower project will become fully operational at the end of this year.

IAEA Signs Practical Arrangements for Triangular Cooperation with Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam International Atomic Energy Agency 8th Oct 2019
Following the signature of two separate but complementary Practical Arrangements (PAs) on 17 September, the IAEA has established a new framework for south-south cooperation involving three Member States in the Asia and Pacific region alongside with the IAEA.

Provincial Official in Laos Wants to Cancel Concession for Chinese Coal Company Radio Free Asia 2nd Oct 2019
Officials for the local government in Laos’ Houaphanh province say they want to cancel the survey contract of a Chinese coal company after learning that its operations in the province have caused hardship for villagers who have yet to see any compensation.

Laos to go ahead with Luang Prabang dam project despite warnings Al Jazeera 24th Sep 2019
The government of Laos has officially informed the intergovernmental Mekong River Commission (MRC) of its plan to build a new dam in Luang Prabang, despite warnings about the project's environmental effects.

Food & Agriculture

EDITORIAL: Imported rice is cheaper than rice grown in Laos Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 8th Oct 2019
Over the years the price of rice grown in Laos has become higher and higher and there have never been any cuts in the price. The reason for this is that large swathes of rice-growing areas are often unable to produce expected yields, either because of prolonged dry spells or flooding. So some parts of the country are unable to grow sufficient rice and vendors take the opportunity of a shortage to raise the sale price. This is a situation that is described in the Lao proverb: “when there’s plenty of water, take it, because when there is none you can’t get any”.

ICT

Cambodia’s Meal Temple launches ride-hailing app in Laos TechInAsia 8th Oct 2019
The launch of DriveUp follows Meal Temple’s acquisition of Laos-based food delivery platform MyDelivery back in February of this year. In a statement, Meal Temple said its recent move brings it one step closer to its goal of becoming a super app in the country.

Home-grown start-up launches ride-hailing service in Laos Khmer Times 3rd Oct 2019
Called DriveUp.app, which is a joint venture company between Kiwipay.la and Meal Temple Group Pty Ltd in Laos, it provides taxis, tuk-tuks, and samlors for the first time in the country, the company’s official said.

Viettel to test 5G broadcast in Laos VnExpress International 8th Oct 2019
Its Laos subsidiary, Unitel, will be the first network operator in the country to broadcast 5G, Viettel said in a release Tuesday. Unitel has been active in Laos for 13 years and is now the biggest network operator here with over 3 million subscribers, which accounts for 56 percent of the country’s telecom market. Viettel’s Myanmar unit, Mytel, tested its 5G broadcast in Yangon in August, while its unit in Cambodia, Metfone, did so in Phnom Penh in July.

Infrastructure

‘Infrastructure, tourism key for Laos’ economic growth’ Phnom Penh Post 8th Oct 2019
“Several key elements are required for tourism promotion in Laos – infrastructure development, tourism campaign investment and regulation of entry fees at tourist sites.”

Transport infrastructure: Connecting the world KHL 8th Oct 2019
Transport construction, such as roads, railways, airports and ports, are key components of the global infrastructure industry. According to information from GlobalData, global infrastructure construction is forecast to grow by 4.8% on an annual average basis in real terms between 2019 and 2023, with this growth driven largely by Asia.

Villagers in Laos Resist 50-year Land Concession to Thai Developer Radio Free Asia 1st Oct 2019
Residents of seven villages in Laos’ Luang Namtha province are resisting a 7,000-hectare land concession granted to a Thai company that would force them to relocate.

Travel & Tourism

Second Sustainable Tourism Solutions Expo a Great Success The Laotian Times 30th Sep 2019
Hundreds of visitors flocked to the second Sustainable Tourism Solutions Expo (STSE) this past weekend, marking a new commitment to sustainability within the tourism and hospitality industries.