Vietnamese investment in Laos has reached a record US$5 billion, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment. The ministry revealed this number at the second annual economic discussion that was organized by the Association of Vietnamese Investors in Laos.
The Laotian government has so far approved 423 different projects by Vietnamese companies, 95% of which will take place in the country’s less developed southern and central regions. Many of the projects are in the agriculture and mining sectors.
In addition to foreign direct investment (FDI), bi-lateral trade between the two nations is also booming and reached US$995 million this September. Vietnamese investment and trade has created around 30,000 jobs in Laos – a sizable part of its population of 6.7 million.
However, Vietnamese investors expressed the difficulties that many of them face doing business in Laos. Complaints included complicated procedures to register the right to use land, and inefficiency by some government agencies.
Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc promised that the Laotian government will try harder to address problems and create favorable conditions for Vietnamese investors. He added that Laos was grateful for projects by investment in its southern provinces, especially those by Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group, which is investing US$1.2 billion in agricultural and hydropower projects.
The minister suggested that the governments of both countries should exchange information regularly while working on improving infrastructure, adding support measures, and eliminating bureaucracy. He also stressed that Vietnamese businesses should insure the quality of their projects, and keep in mind their responsibility to local communities.
Vietnam is now the third largest investor in Laos, followed by Thailand and China, while Laos is the most popular destination for Vietnamese outward investment.