Laos to improve business climate to attract more investors

VIENTIANE (XINHUA) – The Lao government has pledged to remove barriers and further improve the business climate in a bid to attract more investment from Laos and foreign countries.

The government intended to address economic issues and attract more investment from the private sector, Vientiane Times yesterday quoted Lao Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and Investment Sonexay Siphandone, as saying in the National Assembly on Monday.

Investment by the private sector totalled LAK26,127 billion (some USD2,819 million) between 2016 and 2020, representing 50.7 per cent of all investment in Laos, he said.

“In the future, investment capital for national development will come from the private sector, which is essential to further boost economic growth,” he added.

Sonexay said the government will also practise the ‘three opens’ policy, relating to an ‘open mind’, ‘open door’ and ‘open barriers’, which Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith introduced a few years ago.

The Deputy Prime Minister called for government bodies to open their minds by providing better services and facilitating investment by the private sector, saying that in the past this had not always been the case.

Sonexay said the concept of open doors was very important in enabling Laos to connect to the rest of the region, boosting trade, investment and people-to-people exchanges.

In the future, Lao consulates and embassies in foreign countries will be instructed to play a greater role in providing information and encouraging foreign investment in Laos.

“Concerning ‘open barriers’, the Party’s policy outlines the need to remove barriers which delay socio-economic development, but we have not done well in implementing this policy,” he said.

The ‘open barriers’ concept is intended to eliminate administrative barriers that slow or prevent economic development. Many people find it difficult to start or run a business because they need to get approval from a large number of officials, wasting time and money in the process of completing all the paperwork.

The government will re-assess the effectiveness of various policies aimed at strengthening the economy, particularly those relating to land rights and real estate.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused rising unemployment in Laos, which currently stands at about 20 per cent, and the government pledged to address this issue.

“We have to improve the skills of the workforce and ensure workers can find jobs in foreign-funded projects and industrial parks,” Sonexay said.

The government will further encourage foreign investors to train and employ the Lao people, in line with the law.