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Lao leader’s visit expected to promote economic ties

Update: December, 19/2017 - 08:00
Unitel, in which Viettel owns a 49 per cent stake, is the biggest telecom service provider in Laos. –
Viet Nam News

HCM City – A three-day official friendly visit to Việt Nam by Bounnhang Volachith, the Lao Party general secretary and national president, which starts today, is expected to boost diplomatic and economic co-operation between the two sides and open new opportunities for Vietnamese investment in Laos.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment reported that in 2011–15 Vietnamese investment in Laos had significantly increased to reach around US$5 billion now.

“A lot of Vietnamese projects in Laos are operating well and contributed greatly to the socio-economic development of the two nations,” a ministry official told the Đầu Tư (Việt Nam Investment Review) newspaper.

“They have created jobs and contributed to social welfare in Laos.”

The ministry expected the Vietnamese investments to have yielded revenues of $350 – 400 million to the Laos Government and created around 40,000 jobs in 2017.

The major players

Viettel Global recently announced that in the first nine months this year it achieved a turnover of VNĐ13 trillion (US$578 million), an increase of 19 per cent year-on-year, and profits of nearly VNĐ3 trillion ($133 million), a 140 per cent rise.

The biggest contributor to the success of Viettel Global is Unitel, Laos’s largest telecom service provider, in which Viettel owns a 49 per cent share.

Unitel has more than a 50 per cent market share with 2.8 million subscribers. This year it is expected to achieve a turnover of $175 million, a 10 per cent year-on-year increase.

Another major Vietnamese group, Hoàng Anh Gia Lai, has achieved much success in that country and now owns many rubber and palm planations.

In 2015 it built the Attapeu airport and has since invested other $80 million in building the Nong Khai airport in Hua Phan Province.

Its other major projects include the Xekeman 1 and 3 hydropower plants, a power grid to transmit electricity from Xekeman to Pleiku, a $522 million rock salt mine in Khammuoane Province, and a project to grow 70,000ha of rubber and other industrial crops.

New opportunities

In the past most Vietnamese projects in Laos had a State element and focused on hydropower, agriculture and telecom, but now the situation has changed.

More private groups have gone to that country and the investment list has grown.

In April 2017 the BIM Group, a private company, opened the first five-star hotel in Laos, the Crowne Plaza Vientiane.

The 200-room, 20,000sq.m property is in the Royal Square mixed-use building.

Mường Thanh Group has invested $40 million to build another five-star hotel, the Mường Thanh Luxury Vientiane.

The number of Vietnamese companies seeking to invest in Laos is expected to grow significantly.

In its latest survey the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry found that 66 out of 222 companies polled said they would choose Laos for their foreign investment. -- VNS



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