Opportunities for Singapore companies to invest in Laos, says its PM

SINGAPORE -Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has flagged business opportunities in his country for businesses here, especially in agriculture and renewable energy.

During a visit here which included the Singapore-Laos Business Forum today (May 2), Dr Thongloun highlighted strengths of the Lao economy, which is projected to grow 7 per cent this year.

"Laos has abundant natural resources, and the agricultural sector has potential for economic development. In addition, with abundant water resources, Laos has great potential for hydropower development," he said.

Dr Thongloun added that the Lao government wants to promote renewable energy such as hydropower, solar and wind.

To pave the way for greater economic cooperation, the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday.

The deal aims to ensure sharing of information between the two chambers, and to offer businessmen here more understanding of the investment opportunities in Laos.

Bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to US$51 million las year, while Singapore has invested US$284 million in Laos.

Mr Roland Ng, SCCCI president, said the MOU helps Singapore firms link up with potential partners to explore opportunities in Laos.

"Many of our businessmen have already gone to China, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, so these two countries, Cambodia and Laos are countries which we want to pay attention to," he said. The SCCCI will be leading its first delegation of 40 Singapore companies to the two countries later this month.

Dr Thongloun, who was accompanied by executives from 24 Laotian companies, said Laos wants to go from being "land-locked" to becoming "land-linked" through enhancing its transport links.

"Connectivity for Laos is very important. We try to turn our land-locked country to become a land-linked country," he said.

Some projects include the high speed rail connecting southern China to Laos, which began construction last year, he said.

Vietnam and Laos have agreed to collaborate, allowing Laos access to Vietnam's port in Ha Tinh province, as well as discussing a highway from Hanoi to Vientiane, he added.

Mr Kelvin Lim, chief executive of railway cargo services firm Pacific Integrated Logistics, said that he was looking into investing in Laos due to its connectivity.

"The services that we provide now covers the railway route from China to Europe. There are only a few countries connected to the border of China, including Myanmar and Thailand, which we are already in, so the next stop is Laos. In the future, we hope to provide rail services all the way from Europe to Singapore, and vice-versa."