A Laotian, braves problem, to build a US$700 million ASEAN complex in Qingdao, China

English: City_View_Of_Qingdao ‪中文(简体)‬: 从信号山...

English: City_View_Of_Qingdao ‪中文(简体)‬: 从信号山上看青岛市区 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While Laos GDP has been the fast growing in ASEAN for many consecutive years, Laos to most people, is still very much a lost ancient country in the clouds. Therefore, it is quite difficult to accept, that Laos does indeed have a stock market. Laos is off course, a natural resource rich country, particularly in energy production. And because of that, as incredible as it may seem, lawyers and investment bankers, with strong understanding of Laos regulations, have been known to be head hunted, to this and that private bank.

Yet Laos, especially in recent months, have seen something interesting occur, that tends to confirm, how popular the country has become. And that is several airlines are offering more flight connecting Bangkok and various cities in Laos. And in fact, Laos national airline, have recently place orders for more planes.

  • Wikipedia on Laos Economy:

The Lao economy depends heavily on investment and trade with its neighbours, Thailand, Vietnam, and, especially in the north, China. Pakxe has also experienced growth based on cross-border trade with Thailand and Vietnam. In 2011, the Lao Securities Exchange began trading. In 2012, the government initiated the creation of the Laos Trade Portal, a website incorporating all information traders need to import and export goods into the country.

Subsistence agriculture still accounts for half of the GDP and provides 80% of employment. Only 4.01% of the country is arable land, and a mere 0.34% used as permanent crop land,[52] the lowest percentage in the Greater Mekong Subregion.[53] Rice dominates agriculture, with about 80% of the arable land area used for growing rice.[54] Approximately 77% of Lao farm households are self-sufficient in rice.[55]

Through the development, release and widespread adoption of improved rice varieties, and through economic reforms, production has increased by an annual rate of 5% between 1990 and 2005,[56] and Lao PDR achieved a net balance of rice imports and exports for the first time in 1999.[57] Lao PDR may have the greatest number of rice varieties in the Greater Mekong Subregion. Since 1995 the Lao government has been working with the International Rice Research Institute of the Philippines to collect seed samples of each of the thousands of rice varieties found in Laos.[58]

The economy receives development aid from the IMFADB and other international sources; and also foreign direct investment for development of the society, industry, hydropower and mining (most notably of copper and gold). Tourism is the fastest-growing industry in the country. Economic development in Laos has been hampered by brain drain, with a skilled emigration rate of 37.4% in 2000.[59]

Laos is rich in mineral resources and imports petroleum and gas. Metallurgy is an important industry, and the government hopes to attract foreign investment to develop the substantial deposits of coal, gold, bauxite, tin, copper and other valuable metals. In addition, the country’s plentiful water resources and mountainous terrain enable it to produce and export large quantities of hydroelectric energy. Of the potential capacity of approximately 18,000 megawatts, around 8,000 megawatts have been committed for exporting to Thailand and Vietnam.[60] The country’s most widely recognised product may well be Beerlao which is exported to a number of countries including neighbours Cambodia andVietnam. It is produced by the Lao Brewery Company.

  • The following is from China News

Qingdao to build ASEAN trade complex

Zhang Yunxing

Qingdao is building an economic and trade complex that will further promote cooperation between China and ASEAN countries, according to a deal announced Tuesday.

The complex, comprised of an exhibition center and themed shopping mall featuring goods from ASEAN countries and high-end apartments, will require an estimated investment of up to US$700 million, said Aixinjueluo Yuhao, director of the Asia Economic and Trade Cooperation Council (AETCC), a regional quasi-non-governmental organization based in Vientiane, Laos, which is behind the deal with local authorities in Qingdao.

“As the name of the shopping mall suggests, I hope it will become a ‘Window of ASEAN’,” Yuhao said.

As part of the deal, Qingdao will allocate 200 mu (33 acres) of land in the city’s Sifang District for the project and AETCC will coordinate investments and all other entities.

“Qingdao welcomes the project and will do our best to support it,” said Wang Wenhua, director of the Standing Committee of Qingdao Municipal People’s Congress.

Once the complex is finished, it will likely become a popular site for a host of ASEAN summits and meetings. “In this way, it means both the political and economic influence of Qingdao will improve,” Yuhao said.

Yuhao said the themed shopping mall will feature all kinds of goods from ASEAN countries sold at a price that’s “not higher than local levels”.

“Many Chinese travel to Southeast Asia every year to relax and shop, this is a big market,” he said. “Just imagine a place where you don’t have to cross the border but can buy [everything] all in one place.”

Long-time dispute solved

Yuhao, a Chinese Laotian and Chairman of Lao Construction Bank, the biggest privately-owned commercial bank in Laos, said he found Qingdao attractive for the ASEAN complex for a number of reasons.

He said members of AETCC finally chose Qingdao to build the ASEAN Economic and Trade Park after visiting many other cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen, Changchun and Kunming.

“Qingdao is a more balanced choice,” Yuhao said. “It is a beautiful coastal city with ports that many southeast Asian countries dream of – especially landlocked Laos.”

Another important reason Yuhao decided to build the complex in Qingdao is that he could easily obtain access to land for the construction site, a process which can create headaches for many foreign investors.

As a main creditor of the Singapore Huanyu Group, which invested in several real estate programs in Qingdao in the 1990s, Yuhao is wary of the land use issues that can plague foreign developers. Many of the Huanyu Group’s ventures at that time failed and the company was caught in a lengthy land dispute with local authorities.

In January of this year, local authorities in Qingdao reached a deal with Yuhao and the Huanyu Group to allocate one of four plots of land on sale in Sifang District to build the ASEAN complex.

The initial project design has been finished and the complex will be completed within three years once the land plot is set, Yuhao said.

Laos seeks cooperation

A 20-member delegation from Laos, headed by Sinlavong Khoutphaythoune, secretary general of the prime minister’s office, is in China from December 17 to 23 on a trip to seek cooperation and investment opportunities.

The delegation is scheduled to meet Gu Xiulian, president of the China-ASEAN Association in Beijing and then will head to Chengdu for their final stop on the tour.

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