Potential business cooperation and expanded investment between Laos and Singapore was the theme as discussions were held in Vientiane yesterday between the nation’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and counterparts from Singapore.

Delegates from Singapore’s Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME) met counterparts from Lao SMEs at Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCC).

Together they aimed to share an in-depth understanding of the investment environment and first-hand information on doing business in Laos, identifying business opportunities and better understanding the current economic situation.

Ambassador of Singapore to Laos, Mr Dominic Goh said the Lao economy had expanded at a rate of 7 percent last year.

he country is also at the centre of a dynamic sub-region with shared borders with China, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam creating opportunities to benefit from greater regional inter connectivity.

Mr Goh said Lao Airlines had plans to re-launch direct flights from Vientiane to Singapore in October which would play an important role in expanding tourism and exchange between the two nations.

Singaporeans were among those from Asia increasingly drawn to Lao attractions such as the famed World Heritage Listed old town of Luang Prabang, a popular destination which also attracts those from across the region and as far away as Europe and America for leisure travel.

Meanwhile, the Plain of Jars in Xieng Khuang province is applying to join Luang Prabang’s Old Town and Vat Phou Champassak on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Sites such as these were among those with the clearest potential for profitable investment in the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors, he said.

As such, Singapore’s SMEs should consider investment in such services as well as related infrastructure. Meanwhile, Savan-Seno Park is a successful special economic zone (SEZ) in Laos which has been able to attract foreigner companies for low-cost manufacturing in their value chains, including famed Japanese camera and optical firm Nikon.

Singaporean businesses should visit such zones across Laos to ascertain investment opportunities there.

Vice President Mr Daovone Phachanthavong gave a speech to welcome ASME delegates.

He said that recently the government had announced a focus on developing and nurturing SMEs in Laos as part of national agenda.

With platforms such as this business matching event with counterparts from Singapore, he said Lao SMEs were being empowered to engage and forge new partnerships that will encourage growth and innovation across’industries.

Likewise, as one of the fastest growing economies in Asean and strategically
positioned within the One Belt, One Road initiative, there were ample opportunities for Singapore’s SMEs to discover opportunities and build partnerships with Lao SMEs for further investment.

Mr Daovone added that the LNCCI had been able to organise over 90 business meetings with 19 Singaporean firms from a wide range of industries, including healthcare, education, manufacturing, F&B, the service sector, and others.

There are currently 70 Singaporean-funded investment projects in Laos worth US$175 million.

Of these. 33 projects are worth US$97 million and are 100 percent foreign owned.

The remaining 37 projects are joint ventures, accordingto the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Based on the total value of registered investments, Singapore’s investors rank 11th out of the 52 source countries to Laos.

Singaporean investors are involved in 12 projects in the industry and handicrafts sector, 11 projects in the
service sector 11 projects in consulting. and 10 projects focused on trade. the ministry said.

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