Leading ethnic Chinese businesspeople running companies in Thailand are investigating the US$1.6-billion That Luang Specific Economic Zone (SEZ) in Vientiane for possible future investment.
The delegation comprised about 15 businesspeople who own factories in Thailand notably related to salt, rice, steel manufacturing and other construction-related businesses.
Lao officials said the Chinese investors were interested in doing business in the zone but needed some time to survey the business potential.
Following their arrival on Monday the businesspeople met with Vientiane Mayor Mr Soukanh Mahalath and other senior officials at the That Luang SEZ in Vientiane to discuss investment possibilities.
Mr Soukanh told the delegates that SEZs are a form of development in Laos aiming to create a breakthrough approach in socio-economic development and see the country develop more rapidly.
During the meeting, Deputy Minister and Vice President of the Lao National Committee for Special Economic Zones (NCSEZ), Ms Bouatha Khattiya, talked about the government’s policy and the laws of the country related to SEZs, aiming to attract more foreign investment to Laos.
She a lso touched upon the country’s potential in natural resources and noted that Laos is now a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and plans to join the Asean Economic Community in 2015.
The delegation also visited Deputy Prime Minister Mr Somsavat Lengsavad, who supervises economic a ffairs, to further discuss and explore investment opportunities in Laos.
That Luang SEZ is located very close to the capital city centre where necessary facilities for the business sector are available.
The zone is designed to become a cultural and tourism precinct where international tourists can come to enjoy their holidays.
There has already been significant progress at the That Luang SEZ project, which covers an area of 365 hectares.
Chinese developer Wan Feng Shanghai Real Estate Company has already spent more than US$60 million developing the project, including pre-planning and compensation payments to affected villagers.
Currently, infrastructure d evelopment in the zone has seen great achievements, particularly the construction of the access road linking the site to the Phonthan T-junction as well as the construction of bridges and roads within the zone and the gate of the zone.
The developer has also excavated a large lagoon that will be used for tourism purposes and installed a demonstration model displaying the project master plan.
The Chinese developer is in the process of constructing 11 condominium buildings that will each be as many as 18 storeys high.
The That Luang Marsh SEZ is one of the government’s mega-projects that will play a significant role in boosting the socio-economic development of Laos.
The government signed a land concession agreement with the developer in 2011, aiming to urbanise the marsh and generate job opportunities for local people.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the project took place in December 2012 and the company expects to spend between 15 and 20 years developing the area.
It will include a large residential area, public parks and green spaces, a lake, roads and drainage, a sports complex and a commercial centre. There will also be five-star hotels, shopping centres and entertainment venues.
The project covers the six villages of Nonvai, Meuang Noi, Nonkhor Neua, Phonthan, Phonpapao and Donkoi, in Xaysettha and Sisattanak districts.
By Somsack Pongkhao, Vientianetimes
(Latest Update March 25, 2014)