Laos Seeks More Than 700 Companies to Invest in SEZs Over Five Years

A hotel in the Boten Special Economic Zone
A hotel in the Boten Special Economic Zone (Photo: Pasaxon).

The government of Laos will attempt to attract more than 700 companies to invest in Special Economic Zones over the next five years.

Director-General of the Special Economic Zone Promotion and Management Office, under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Mr. Sonepaserth Dalavong, says special economic zones (SEZs) have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s hard to predict when the pandemic will end and our SEZs have been directly affected, particularly in terms of attracting investment, collecting taxes, and creating employment,” said Sonepaserth.

Despite these challenges, the government has set a five-year goal of attracting over 700 businesses to invest in SEZs, which it says would create over 130,000 jobs. At the same time, authorities could collect over LAK 1.2 trillion in revenue through taxation, Pasaxon reports.

Under SEZ agreements, the government typically holds a stake in the project through the provision of land, in accordance with a 2010 decree on Special Economic Zones. However, Mr. Sonepaserth says that in cases wherein the government provides state land as its capital but development fails to go ahead, it may change the investment structure from holding shares to simply charging an annual concession fee instead.

The government has used its land as a share in the Vientiane Saysettha Development Zone, Point C of the Savan-Xeno SEZ, the Golden Triangle SEZ, and the Pakse-Japan SEZ.

“Officials will now endeavor to address problems at SEZs around the country, particularly the Golden Triangle SEZ and Boten SEZ. We will also reassess the implementation of special economic zone agreements on a regular basis to ensure activities are in line with our agreements,” said Mr. Sonepaserth.

Meanwhile, the ministry says it must implement one-stop services for SEZs to make establishment procedures more convenient, while licenses should be able to be issued on-site.