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Serbia to explore investments in Laos: report

Publication Date : 28-02-2013


Serbia has expressed strong interest in investing in Laos and will send two delegations to explore business opportunities in the resource-rich country, following an official visit by Serbian Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkic, a Serbian news agency reported.

Mrkic visited Laos from February 22-25 in response to an invitation from Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Thongloun Sisoulith.

The two ministers held talks on bilateral ties. Mrkic also paid courtesy calls to Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and National Assembly President Pany Yathortou.

“They agreed Serbia will send two delegations to Laos to examine the possibilities of Serbian companies taking part in major projects in the country,” the Serbian news agency Tanjug reported.

Both sides reached consensus to strengthen their friendship through economic cooperation.

Mrkic told Tanjug on February 25 that the two countries have agreed to "complete several interstate agreements which will facilitate economic cooperation", probably by July.

According to the Tanjug, Mrkic recognised Laos' high untapped potential to develop hydroelectricity exports to feed the region and acknowledged Laos' steady economic growth.

"Laos is flourishing and has one of the highest growth rates in Asia. It has been called the engine of the region, and between 2010 and 2020 the country will build 15 new hydropower plants which will supply electricity to the whole region,” Mrkic was quoted by the Tanjug as saying.

Both sides also discussed the participation of Serbian construction companies in this project, noting that “there will probably be room for Serbia, which is known for its excellent engineers and solid construction sector”. Laos has huge untapped potential to develop hydroelectricity. In total, the country has the potential to develop dams with total installed capacity up to 30,000MW, exceeding the current total consumption in Thailand of about 26,000MW.

The existing hydropower plants in Laos have a combined installed capacity of about 3,000MW, meaning only 10 per cent of the potential has been realised.

Lao officials said the interest expressed by Serbia to explore investment opportunities in the country signaled an important move in bilateral economic cooperation. Serbian investment in Laos to date has been relatively insignificant.

During their talks, the two foreign ministers discussed ways to enhance bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields, according to a press release from the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Thongloun and Mrkic signed a memorandum of understanding on consultation and cooperation between the two foreign ministries, paving the way for future cooperation.

Mrkic's visit to Laos is a landmark as it was the first ever by a high-level official from Serbia since the European country was proclaimed as the Republic of Serbia in 2006.


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