Representatives of the public and private sectors from Laos and Japan met in Vientiane on Monday to discuss addressing constraints for Japanese firms doing business in Laos.
They met for the 13th annual meeting of the Lao-Japan Public and Private Sectors Joint Dialogue, aiming to boost investment from the land of the rising sun.
The vital dialogue was co-organised by the Embassy of Japan in Laos and the Ministry of Planning and Investment in cooperation with Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Vientiane, Japan External Trade Organisation in Vientiane, Japan International Cooperation Agency Laos Office, and Japan Bank for International Cooperation in Bangkok.
The dialogue is a mechanism where Japanese and Lao public-private sectors directly discuss issues, which Japanese companies face in Laos. It aims to improve the investment climate and attract more Japanese investors to Laos by finding specific solutions for each issue.
In his opening remarks, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and Investment Sonexay Siphandone thanked the embassy, Japanese organisations, and other sectors for supporting the previous 12 meetings. He highly valued the cooperation of the Japanese government, organisations, and the private sector for their continued support to Laos.
“From the previous dialogues it has helped the government of Laos to understand the problems and interests of Japan, and many issues have been addressed,” he said.
Sonexay said improvements included investment authorisation for general businesses and concessions, broadening of wholesale and retail joint ventures, enhancing local labour supply, foreign representative office management, and import tax policy.
The Lao government has issued a decision on the establishment and management of representative offices of foreign legal entities, with many related issues addressed, and there has been a more favourable determination of tax regulations.
“As the result of the improvements, Japanese investment in Laos has been growing,” Sonexay said.
Japanese firms have 90 investment projects in Laos valued at $203 million. Of these, 32 are joint ventures valued at $93.5 million with the remaining projects being fully direct investments from Japan.
Japanese companies have been actively investing in Laos – many in the manufacturing sector, with the current number of firms having now increased to 163.
Investment in Laos from Japan has contributed to employment creation and the sharing of production technology and management know-how, resulting in the growth of the Lao economy and the nation’s development.
Speaking at the meeting’s opening ceremony, Japanese Ambassador to Laos Keizo Takewaka noted Japan’s intention for technology transfer to Laos through the investments.
He spoke about Laos concluding the implementation of the eighth National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP), entering the next NSEDP, and making efforts to realise highly effective production.
To support these efforts, the Japanese government will encourage more Japanese companies to invest in Laos in diverse sectors, Takewaka said.
Through the dialogue, unresolved issues will continue to be discussed in the existing working group, while new working groups may be established to discuss matters arising in cooperation with the Lao government.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK