Improved domestic cross-border transport and logistics, coupled with widening and deepening demand for clean, green vegetables and fruit both in neighboring China and across the emerging economies of Asia presents a host of potential niche opportunities for Laos to capitalize upon, an audience in Vientiane has heard.
Laos’ geographical position, economic potential, road and rail transport development and relatively high rate of rural dwellers make the need for a more productive agricultural sector inevitable and imperative as well as desirable, the ANZ Food, Beverage and Agriculture Forum was told in the capital.
Despite updates on the risks from global economic headwinds on trade, the mood remained upbeat in Vientiane last week at the forum organised by the Lao institutional arm of the Melbourne, Australia headquartered ANZ Bank, one of Australia’s big four financial institutions.
Increased interest in the agriculture, food and beverage production sectors come at a time when Lao policy is attempting to walk a fine fiscal line, seeking increased investment into the landlocked country to make the most of opportunities afforded by improved regional transport and infrastructure links and the demand driven by consumer trends in much larger neighboring markets.
Existing strengths such as the country’s famed coffee and tea crops, and potentials such as milk production were important areas on which to focus, ANZ Agribusiness Insights head Mr Michael Whitehead told the forum.
High-quality products based on clean and green production and carefully niche targeting alongside the development of “Brand Lao / Brand Laos” were ways to thrive and prosper in a competitive global environment as consumer tastes and relative supply capacities continue to rapidly evolve across the region.
The forum saw attendance from Lao and international firms large, medium, small as were representatives of ministerial bodies, the diplomatic corps and international organizations.
Advice and experience of established firms in Laos was also aired and shared by business in the form of the Carslberg-invested Lao Brewery Company, producer of the popular Beerlao and Tigerhead Water brands as well as Lao franchisee for Pepsi Cola was joined by firms including Mekong Timber Plantations.
Hosted by Crowne Plaza Hotel Vientiane, forum attendees included Vice Minister of Industry and Commerce H.E. Phanthong Phitthoumma, Vice Minister of Finance, Mme Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, Vice President of LNCCI, Mr Daovone Phachanthavong, along with Australia’s Ambassador to the Lao PDR, Mr Jean-Bernard Carrasco.
Joining Mr Whitehead were ANZ’s Head of Food, Beverage and Agribusiness, Patrick Vizzone, and CEO ANZ Laos Rufus Pinto for the August 30 event.
Images: Laos Briefly