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Laos, China's Yunnan target US$300m in trade
Publication Date : 03-04-2012
Laos and China's Yunnan province have agreed to encourage trade and investment in the region, aiming for a two-way trade value of US$300 million this year.
Governor of Yunnan province Li Jiheng spoke in support of this goal at a trade and investment conference held in Vientiane last week, which was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad.
The meeting brought together businesspeople from both countries to network and discuss the expansion of their business cooperation.
"We will encourage investment cooperation between the business sectors in Laos and Yunnan province, while concentrating on economic development in the border region of our two countries,” Li Jiheng said. The two sides also intend to enhance their cooperation in communication networks to better link Laos and Yunnan province as well as the wider South East Asian region.
"We also need to further discuss measures to ensure the easy passage of goods across the border in order to boost trade value to about $300 million this year,” Li Jiheng said. In 2011, the two-way trade value between Laos and Yunnan province reached $265 million, an increase of about 30 per cent on the previous year.
At the end of last year, Laos and Yunnan province signed 300 agreements related to construction projects, labour, and consultancies.
"We are proud of our cooperation in previous years, particularly relating to transportation, trade, investment, real estate, science, education, health, tourism, culture and the environment,” Li Jiheng said.
Yunnan province is the only province in China that shares a border with Laos. With a population of 45.7 million people, the province has a GDP of more than $130 billion and annual income per capita of $3,000.
Yunnan's abundance of natural resources means that the mainstays of its economy are agriculture, tobacco, mining, hydroelectric power, and tourism.
Laos is Yunnan province's second largest investment market. Recently more entrepreneurs from the province came to explore business opportunities in Laos.
Laos is one of the least developed countries in South East Asia, but it is growing rapidly and the economic growth rate is now approaching 8 per cent.
The government wants to secure $8.9 billion in private sector investment over the next five years, which is equivalent to 55 per cent of total investment in Laos.
During Friday's meeting, Minister of Planning and Investment Somdy Duangdy addressed business operators from Yunnan province about the government's policy to attract foreign investment and boost economic growth in Laos.
"However, in the new era, the Lao government attaches great importance to sustainable development by balancing economic development with social development and environmental protection,” he said.
"That's why we want to concentrate on quality investment to ensure that foreign investment truly contributes to socio-economic development, environmental protection and poverty reduction for all Lao people.”
To attract more foreign investment, the government amended the Law on Investment Promotion in 2009 and set up a one stop service office in three sectors to facilitate business operations.
Li Jiheng's visit has been hailed as a success, with agreements reached pertaining to many development projects in Laos, which is expected to significantly boost economic cooperation.