VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) Vientiane will work with the developers of four special economic zones (SEZs) to encourage more investment by Japanese companies, to boost trade and economic ties between Laos and Japan. 

A Memorandum of Cooperation was signed in Vientiane on Tuesday by the Chief Representative of JETRO Vientiane, Mr Katsuichi Iwakami, and the zone developers.

The signing ceremony was attended by the Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Ms Khamchanh Vongseneboun, representatives from the Malaysian and Japanese Embassies to Laos the Special Economic Zone Promotion and Management Office, and officials from various government bodies.

The four targeted zones are the Pakxe-Japan SME SEZ, Savan Park, Saysettha Development Zone, and the Vientiane Industrial and Trade Area (VITA Park).

JETRO Vientiane, which was established in 2014, is undertaking various activities although its main responsibility is promoting investment by Japanese companies in Laos, Mr Iwakami said.

Since the establishment of JETRO Vientiane, investments by Japanese companies in Laos had doubled and many firms are now considering the possibility of opening a branch in Laos, he added.

Some companies approached the JETRO Vientiane Office for consultations and to seek information on Laos’ investment laws and other considerations, especially those relating to establishing a company, tax payments, marketing studies, and business partners, Mr Iwakami said.

Laos currently has 12 SEZs which have attracted investment from almost 600 Lao and foreign companies, of which 40 are Japanese, Ms Khamchanh said. Japan is ranked third among foreign investors in the SEZs, she added. 

Among members of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry who have invested in the Mekong sub-region, only 105 companies have a presence in Laos. The comparative figure for Vietnam is 1,900 companies, 400 for Myanmar, and 270 for Cambodia, according to JETRO.

Officials said this new cooperation will encourage more Japanese companies to invest in Laos by publicising the development of the Lao economy and its investment laws on JETRO’s website.

To boost business partnerships between Laos and Japan, JETRO has published the “Laos 100 excellent business” book and last year arranged business matching with 19 companies, of which six firms have started business operations.



News: Vientiane Time

Photos: Lao Economic Daily





Lao Economic and Investment Forum

Promotion of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Manufacturing Sector and Investment in Special Economic Zones

(November 6th and 8th, 2018 in Osaka and Yamaguchi, Japan.)


 (108 people attending the forum in Osaka,  6th November 2018)


On 6th and 8th November 2018, Lao Economic and Investment Forum focusing on “Promotion of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Manufacturing Sector and Investment in Special Economic Zones (SEZs)” were organized in Osaka and Yamaguchi Prefecture by Ministry of Planning and Investment of Lao PDR and ASEAN Japan Centre. There were over 200 people attending the forum.

H.E. Ph.D Souphanh Keomixay, Minister of Planning and Investment delivered the keynote speech and emphasized that the forum is one of among activities to foster the closer co-operation between Lao PDR and Japan since the establishment of the diplomatic relation since 1955. Laos and Japan marked the 60th Anniversary in 2015 and have been celebrating the strategic partners since then.

On the remarks of Minister Keomixay, there were 04 key areas got focused: 1) Direction of Lao Economic Development, 2) Investment Promotion and Mechanism, 3) MSMEs Promotion, and 4) Investment in SEZs. In light of infrastructure development, some key projects are under the construction and due to operate in 2021 such as Laos-China railway project and Vientiane to Laos-China border highway project. There are several highway projects connecting Vientiane to Vangvieng, and Vientiane to Champasack province.

“The development of hardware (infrastructures) and the improvement of software (laws and regulations) by the Lao Government aims to ensure providing a solid “bird nest” for investors (birds) who are looking for the right place to stay and operate their business sustainably” said by the Minister.

The development of dry port is one of the priority of the government and it is strategized to reduce the transportation cost. In 2016, the first dry port was established in middle part of Laos and it can reduce the transportation cost of goods about 30%. The additional dry port in LuangNamtha Province, Khammuane Province and Champasack Province in under the plan for development.

(105 people attending the forum in Yamaguchi, 8th November 2018)


Minister Keomixay affirmed that the special and specific economic zones would provide a promising an ease of business environment  for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Currently, two out of total 12 SEZs were here with us and they were very happy to explain about the readiness of their zones to the audiences. 

The session in Osaka and Yamaguchi featured speakers from various fields and expertises. List of the speakers and the topic of presentations/remarks are shown at the end*.

Savan Park is located in Savannakhet Province (central part of Laos) which takes full advantage of the East-West Economic Corridor. This SEZ covers the total land area of 234 ha and over 60 enterprises (including 10 Japanese firms) invested in the zone.

Pakse-Japan SMEs Zone is located in Champasack Province (southern part of Laos). There are 11 firms currently operating in the zone.

SEZs in Lao PDR features several incentives which are considered having several competitive incentives comparing to incentives granted outside the SEZs.


*List of speakers: 

  1. HE Mr Viroth SUNDARA, Ambassador, Embassy of Laos in Japan: “Welcome Remarks”;
  2. HE Mr Takeo KAWAMURA, Chairman, Japanese-Lao Parliamentary Group: “Remarks”;
  3. Professor Motoyoshi SUZUKI, PhD, President & Vice Chairman, Lao School of Business and Commerce (LSBC), Special Adviser to Minister, Ministry of Planning & Investment, Lao PDR: “Surprisingly Attractive Lao Investment Environment: Latest Information”
  4. Mr Katsuichi IWAKAMI, Chief Representative, JETRO Vientiane: “Business Chance in Laos”
  5. Mr Vannada PHOMMASATHIT, Managing Director, Pakse-Japan SME SEZ Development Co., Ltd; Mr Toshihiro MOCHIZUKI, Senior Manager, Business Planning Section, Nishimatsu Construction Co., Ltd; and Mr Yasuo NISHIOKA, Deputy Manager, Business Planning Section, Nishimatsu Construction Co., Ltd: “Introduction of Special Economic Zones (SEZs)”;
  6. Mr Tee Chee Seng, General Manager, Savan Park: Savanakhet Special Economic Zone: “Introduction of Special Economic Zones (SEZs);
  7. Mr Tetsuya IKEDA, Managing Director, Sanko Lao Co.,Ltd & Managing Executive Officer, Sanko Construction Co.,Ltd: “SANKO LAO – Solution for Tomorrow”.


Useful links:

- Investment Promotion Department , MPI, Laos: 

- ASEAN Japan Centre:





News by: Mr. Phouvong Phaophongsavth


Laos Economy and Investment Dialogues 2017 in Osaka and Nagoya City

On 14th and 17th November 2017, Laos Economy and Investment Dialogues 2017 were organized in Osaka and Nagoya City, Japan by Ministry of Planning and Investment of Lao PDR and ASEAN Japan Centre under the theme of “Regional Supply Chains and Logistics: Expanding Investment Opportunities from Neighboring Countries to Laos.” These two events attracted over 150 Japanese people.

On the remarks of H.E. Ph.D Souphanh Keomixay, Minister of Planning and Investment, he emphasized that when we think about investments into Laos, we think about the investments into the regional market. The production in this era is fragmented or so called the supply chain.

The remarks of Minister Keomixay elaborated further that the infrastructure development is one of the priorities of the government and there are several development have been implemented such as the railway projects, dry-port projects and road projects. As for the railway, the Laos-China railway project will connect Southern part of China to Vientiane capital and also link to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. There are 02 railway projects are under conducting a thorough study and they have following routes: Vientiane Capital-Thakhek District-Khammuane Province-Vung Ang of Vietnam and Thakhek-Savannakhet-Pakse-Vang Tao of Thailand.  The dry-port projects, Lao Government  plan to develop 9 dry ports across the country and one of those was established in Savan-Seno Special Economic Zone in Savannakhet Province namely Savan Logistic Dry-Port.

Minister Keomixay emphasized that the special and specific economic zones would provide business opportunities in manufacturing and service sectors. Currently, one out of total 12 SEZs was here with us and they were very happy to explain about the advantages of investing in Pakse-Japan SMEs Zone and how Laos can position ourselves in the regional supply chain. 

The dialogues combined the panel discussion and the talks from knowledgeable speakers and experts on various topics such “Plus One and Supply Chain in Lao Investment Environment” Professor Motoyoshi Suzuki, PhD; “Current Situation of Factory Operation in Laos” Mr Yasuhito Murakami President, Tailon Lao Co.,Ltd; “Business Opportunities in Lao PDR” Mr Katsuichi Iwakami, Chief Representative, JETRO Vientiane; “Thailand Plus One in the Southern City, Pakse”; Mr Masahiko Ueda, President, Leonka World Lao Co., Ltd and Leonka World Co.,Ltd (Thailand).

Pakse-Japan SMEs Zone is located in Champasack Province (southern part of Lao PDR) and it is one part of Champasack SEZ with total area of 995 Ha. It was established in 2015 and aims to target Japanese SMEs. SEZs in Lao PDR features sufficient infrastructures and several incentives which are considered having several competitive incentives comparing to incentives granted outside the SEZs.

Apart from co-organizing the dialogues, the delegates from Laos had chance to visit key Japanese institutions and firms/factory such as Aichi Prefecture Governor Office and Toyota City (Tsusumi Plant), etc. 





U.S Investors sign LOIs with Partners for Development of First Large Scale Solar Power Project in Lao PDR

According to the immediate press release of Convalt Engery on September 29, 2017 in Vientiane Capital, Convalt Energy (“Convalt”), an independent renewable power production company wholly owned by New York-based investment firm ACO Investment Group, executed Letters of Intent (LOI) with General Electric (NYSE:GE) for supply of electrical equipment, Cathay United Bank of Taiwan for project financing, and with U.S-based DigiCollect for performing feasibility studies for the first large scale solar power project in Laos.


U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross witnessed the signing of the LOIs at a ceremony in Vientiane, along with Rena Bitter, U.S. Ambassador to the Lao PDR, and senior Lao government officials including Dr. Kikeo Chanthaboury, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment; Mr. Chansone Sanebouttalath, Vice Minister of Energy and Mines; and Mr. Somchith Inthamith, Vice Minister of Industry and Commerce.

Convalt signed MOUs for solar power development on August 31 with the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the provincial governments of Borlikhamxay and Attapeu Provinces, where Convalt is currently developing solar plants of 50MW and 250MW, respectively.  At an estimated cost of $400 million, this project would constitute the largest investment into Laos by an American company.  Both solar plants are expected to be operational by December 2019. 

GE is expected to supply electrical equipment including inverters, switchgear and electrical equipment for the transmission and substations to be built as part of the projects.  Cathay United Bank, a leading bank in the Asia-Pacific region, is expected to assist with project financing including providing debt financing for the project.  U.S.-based DigiCollect will be performing feasibility studies including Environmental, Social Impact Analysis and other technical studies related to the project.

Convalt, founded in 2011 as a portfolio company of ACO Investment Group, is primarily focused on developing, operating and maintaining energy generation, transmission & distribution assets. Please see for more information about the company.

Convalt and its partners General Electric (NYSE: GE) and DigiCollect are currently working on a 300 MW AC solar power project in the Mandalay Region of Myanmar. 



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Last update: 28 November 2019.