Vietnam - Laos investment ties bear 'sweet fruit' hinh anh 1The launch of the Unitel mobile network in Laos in 2009 (Photo: Viettel)
Hanoi (VNA) – The great friendship, special solidarity, and comprehensive cooperation between Vietnam and Laos have been developing unceasingly, resulting in many important outcomes in all aspects, including economy, investment, and trade, according to Vietnamese Ambassador to Laos Nguyen Ba Hung.

Accompanying Laos in sustainable development

Hung said Vietnam is one of the top three investors in Laos, with 415 licensed projects worth about 4.4 billion USD, mostly in important sectors like finance - banking, power generation, telecommunications, agriculture and forestry, and mining.

Many of the projects are operating well, helping to foster local socio-economic development, improve people’s living standards, and guarantee security and defence in Laos, he noted.

For example, Hoang Anh Gia Lai projects have created about 20,000 jobs in Laos while Unitel, the telecoms brand of Viettel in the country, has ensured employment for over 25,000 people.

Vietnamese enterprises have invested almost 71 million USD in social welfare here, mainly in the fields of health care, education, and house building for poor people in remote areas, the ambassador said.

Besides, tech companies of Vietnam like the Military Industry and Telecoms Group Viettel are not only investors but also providers of support for the Lao Government in digital transformation and e-Government building.

Notably, Unitel has accompanied the Lao Government and people in multiple activities, Hung went on, elaborating that it has spent over 3.3 million USD on assisting the government in digital transformation and e-Government infrastructure building, supplied free internet at a cost of more than 27 million USD for nearly 1,000 schools, trained hundreds of high-quality IT and telecome personnel for Laos, helped build schools and health stations, and aided disaster-hit people.

Vietnamese businesses have also assisted the Lao Government and people in the COVID-19 combat. Among them, Star Telecom of Unitel offered over 12 billion VND (526,000 USD) in aid, Hoang Anh Gia Lai 100,000 USD, LaoVietBank 10,000 USD, Sakai mining company 22,000 USD, Viet Laos Power 30,000 USD, Hung said.

A number of investment projects by Vietnamese firms in Laos have been operating profitably, thus substantially contributing to both countries’ socio-economic development, a representative of the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment noted.

Bright spot in Vietnam - Laos cooperation

Laos is currently the largest investment destination of Vietnam, accounting for nearly 31 percent of the latter’s total overseas investment. Meanwhile, Vietnam ranks third among foreign investors in Laos, with total investment of over 4.4 billion USD.

Telecommunications, agriculture, and energy are outstanding sectors of Vietnamese investment as seen in Unitel of Viettel; the 500-million-USD project of Vinamilk; the rubber planting, palm oil, and airport projects of Hoang Anh Gia Lai, and the Xekaman 1 hydropower project, which are demonstrations of the comprehensive, practical, and effective bilateral cooperation.

Vietnam - Laos investment ties bear 'sweet fruit' hinh anh 2Illustrative image (Photo: Viettel)
Unitel, a joint venture between Viettel and the Lao Government, has become the No. 1 telecom service provider in Laos, with a market share of 57 percent, after 12 years of operating.

Since the firm came into being, the percentage of Lao people accessing mobile phone services has increased six-fold, from 18 percent to 100 percent.

Unitel is the biggest contributor to the expansion of telecom infrastructure to all corners of the country, turning Laos into one of the nations with the largest telecom infrastructure and the best 4G coverage and speed in ASEAN.

It now has over 2 billion USD in cumulative revenue and around 777 million USD in cumulative pre-tax profit. It has generated profit of 306 million USD for Laos.

So far, Vietnamese enterprises have contributed hundreds of millions of USD to the state budget of Laos such as Unitel over 700 million USD in total and LaoVietBank 40 million USD, according to Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung.

Given this fact, investment has become an important “economic ambassador” in the great friendship, special solidarity, and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries./.

Trade between Vietnam and Laos recorded stable growth during 2016 – 2020, topping 1 billion USD annually at present.

In the first five months of 2021, bilateral trade reached 570.7 million USD, up 39.3 percent year on year and 16.7 percent from the same period of 2019 (before the COVID-19 pandemic began).

The sum includes 280.3 million USD of Vietnam’s exports and 290.4 million USD of imports from Laos, respectively rising 23.5 percent and 58.9 percent from a year earlier.