Lengsavad, who is also Chairman of the Vietnam-Laos Sub-Committee for Cooperation, made the commitment during an interview granted to a Vientiane-based VOV correspondent.
VOVOnline brings you excerpts from the interview, showing the Lao government’s desire to appeal to Vietnamese investment.
VOV: In your capacity as Chairman of the Vietnam-Laos Sub-Committee for Cooperation, what do you think of bilateral economic cooperation in recent times?
Lengsavad: Economic ties between Laos and Vietnam have grown and flourished over the years. Two-way trade has increased considerably, reaching more than US$500 million in 2011, US$100 million more than in 2010.
Vietnamese investment in Laos has also grown year on year since 2008. To date Vietnam is one of the biggest foreign investors in Laos, focusing mainly on hydro power and rubber plantation. Vietnamese investors have started implementing sugarcane and cassava plantation projects.
VOV: Could you further elaborate on Vietnam’s investment efficiency in southern Laos?
Lengsavad: Vietnamese businesses have made great strides in investment in southern provinces, most notably Attapeu province, and Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) is the pioneer group in this field.
Recently Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and I attended a groundbreaking ceremony of an HAGL-invested sugarcane industry complex in Attapeu with total investment capital of up to several hundreds of millions of US dollars.
This complex will produce refined sugar, ethanol, and fertilizers, and generate thermo power from sugarcane materials.
HAGL is also developing rubber farms on thousands of hectares in the province.
The group is considering expanding its operation in Sekong province to grow sugarcane and rubber, exploit copper and iron ores, and develop hydro-electric power projects.
In addition, the Vietnam Rubber Group and Dak Lak Rubber Company have developed tens of thousands of hectares of rubber plantations.
In other words, Vietnamese businesses are operating efficiently in southern Laos. Their rubber growing projects are expected to bear fruit in 2013 and 2014, greatly contributing to local socio-economic development.
VOV: Which areas do you think Vietnamese businesses should invest in to bring the most practical results?
Lengsavad: The Lao government wants Vietnamese businesses to grow organic vegetables and process farm produce for export. We grow cash crops such as corn, cassava, and trees for lumber, but export them in the form of raw materials. We need farm produce processing plants to raise our export value.
We also encourage businesses to invest in health care, and education-training, especially in building high-technology schools.
The two governments have agreed to promote economic cooperation, and we hope 2012 will see a boom in Vietnamese investment in Laos.
VOV: Thank you.