Vietnam is boosting its investment in Laos to regain its top position among foreign investors in the country.
A Vietnamese-invested rubber farm Attapu province, Laos
Between 2009 and 2010, Vietnam was the biggest foreign investor in Laos, but this year, it has lost ground to both China and Thailand.
Vietnamese firms are trying to increase their investments in Laos with a series of projects in the sectors of energy, mineral, industrial crops, banking and finance.
At the Vietnam-Laos Investment Cooperation Conference, which took place in Vientiane on September 9 and 10, Laos licenced six Vietnamese projects totaling $410 million. The two sides also signed memorandum of understanding that would be worth $750 million.
To date, Vietnamese firms have 203 active projects in Laos, totalling $3.3 billion.
In the first eight months of this year, the total registered capital of Vietnamese firms in Laos reached $469 million.
Nguyen Xuan Son, general director of PetroVietnam Oil Corporation (PV Oil), said “The Lao government has created favourable conditions for foreign investors to do business.”
PV Oil, a wholly Vietnamese-owned petroleum company, set up business in Lao in April of this year.
Deputy general director of Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin), Duong Van Hoa, said, they are focusing on three projects in particular, including a chemical salt project in Savanakhet, along with two coal projects in Luang Namtha and Sekong provinces.
Tran Hung Viet, general director of Saigontourist, said, the company firstly focused on cooperation with their Lao partners for travel development. After that, he said, they would consider opening new branches of hotels, casinos and resorts in the country.
Vietnamese firms have also developed a large amount of rubber plantations and processing facilities in Laos.
Doan Nguyen Duc, chairman of Hoang Anh Gia Lai Group, who has been active in the rubber industry there, said, "If Vietnamese investors don't seize the opportunity in Laos early, they will loose out to other investors from China, Thailand and Russia."