Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith at the dialogue (Photo: VNA)
Vientiane (VNA) – Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith vowed that the Lao Government will create the most possible favourable conditions for Vietnamese investors during his first-ever dialogue with the Vietnamese business community in Laos.

The talks, held in Vientiane on October 21, provided a venue for Vietnamese investors to talk directly with the Lao government about difficulties and obstacles they face when doing business in Laos .

The areas with the most complaints are procedures of granting investment licences; land use and ground clearance policies; the import and export of goods and temporary import and re-export service; taxation, related fees and tax refund; human resources and visa for labourers; and business environment.

PM Sisoulith emphasized that his presence at the meeting along with more than half of Cabinet members of Laos showed the importance they attach to the Vietnamese investors and their wish to find out about problems hindering Vietnamese firms’ operation for timely solutions.

He noted that after 15 years, Vietnam has become the third largest foreign investor in Laos , which demonstrates the close ties between the two countries in all fields. He pledged to direct ministries and sectors to work with Vietnamese firms to seek solutions to specific matters.

The PM asked the Vietnamese investors to sympathise and cooperate with Laos in improving the working mechanisms and management capacity.

He also informed the investors that Laos has ceased granting of land for rubber tree cultivation and licensing new mining projects, citing low rubber price, a shortage of labourers and land, and environmental protection as among reasons.

Sisoulith underscored that the Lao Government encourages investors from all countries to join fair competition, asking them to strictly abide by the country’s law.

During the dialogue, leaders of Lao ministries also answered questions of Vietnamese enterprises.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Somdy Douangdy promised to deal with the slow refund of value added tax, while Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Baykham Khattinha said the ministry will consider specific foreign-funded projects asking for more manual labourers than the 10 percent cap impose on manual labour for each project.

Speaking to Vietnamese News Agency’s correspondents in Laos, General Director of PV Oil Laos Nguyen Kim Son said that the dialogue was a success, as this was the first time the Lao PM has directly talked to Vietnamese businesses in Laos on problems facing them.

Statistics from the AVIL show that Vietnamese investment in Laos has continuously increased in the 2011-2015 period in terms of both number of projects and capital.

As of the end of September 2016, Vietnam had 266 licensed projects in Laos with a total registered capital of 5.1 billion USD, up 1.3 times and 1.26 times respectively from the figures for 2011.

Vietnamese-invested projects are located in 16 out of 18 provinces and cities of Laos , many of which have contributed significantly to local socio-economic development. The projects paid 240-260 million USD to Laos’ State budget each year, and created jobs for 35,000 labourers. The figures are expected to increase to 350-400 million USD and 45,000 labourers, respectively, in 2017 and continue to rise in the future.-VNA