THE ABUNDANT natural resources of Laos, including its vast hydropower potential and food resources, could help drive economic cooperation with the region and the rest of the world, according to a leading young Lao businessman.
Phanthachith Inthilath, chairman of Intra Corporation Sole Co, said recently that among Asean countries, Laos has plentiful natural resources, as 75 per cent of the country comprises mountainous areas and rivers.
“This assists development in many areas, including hydropower development, which is the main reason why the government is developing Laos to be the battery of Asia by producing electricity for export to neighbouring countries and the region,” he said.
Laos has potential to develop in many areas, such as energy, agriculture and industry, by using its aquatic, water and food resources for the benefit of the people of Asean.
Tourism also has plenty of potential as Laos has been a top tourist destination for many years, especially Luang Prabang, which has been included among the best destinations of the world.
“Even though Laos is a landlocked country, the government has a policy and purpose to turn it into a land-link country by developing the east-west economic corridor.
“It has also recently taken steps to develop Vung Ang seaport, railways and highways to facilitate the transit of goods from the west, including Myanmar and Thailand, passing through Laos to the east,” he said.
He said his company is part of the consortium that will develop the seaport as part of steps to remove transport bottlenecks.
Transporting goods to Europe or the US takes much time and costs a lot.
“But if we can complete the east-west economic corridor, transportation costs from Laos to Thailand, Korea, Japan, Malaysia and China will decrease,” he said.
“Thus, product costs will also reduce because transportation cost accounts for almost 20 per cent to 30 per cent of product cost.
“So if this project works, it can reduce 30 per cent to 40 per cent of product cost, which will give us more of a chance to bargain in the market.”
The opening of the Asean Economic Community has resulted in more competition, but Laos has to look at its potential and become more competitive by using its natural resources and energy sources and by boosting exports, he said.
Tourist spots that are yet to be discovered and developed could boost tourism and promote the culture and environment, as the government has a policy for sustainable development.