Over US$1 billion has been disbursed in various business activities and the development of special and specific economic zones (SEZs), driven by growing regional economic integration.
Almost 300 companies from Laos and overseas are now investing in the SEZs, with a total registered capital of almost US$8 billion, of which US$1.62 billion has been spent.
The Lao National Committee for Special Economic Zones (NCSEZ) unveiled its latest report recently, showing that SEZs in Laos have become increasingly attractive to foreign investors due to tax incentives and infrastructure improvement.
While SEZs have seen a lot of progress, some are still in the initial stages of development since they are building and installing the necessary infrastructure to accommodate local and foreign entrepreneurs, such as roads, water supplies, electricity and other facilities.
Over the past nine months, eight companies have been granted permission to invest in the Savan-Seno Special Economic Zone in Savannnakhet province, with the value of investments amounting to about US$4 million.
Meanwhile the Golden Triangle special economic zone in Bokeo province has attracted 13 companies with registered capital of over US$34 million.
In addition, the Vientiane Industry and Trade area (VITA Park) has attracted investment by eight companies over the past nine months.
Over the past decade, SEZs in Laos have been developing continuously, contributing to the urbanisation of remote regions, boosting economic growth, and generating job opportunities for local people.
Currently Laos has 12 SEZs (four special economic zones and eight specific economic zones), covering an area of almost 20,000 hectares.
About 294 companies (56 Lao companies, 217 foreign companies and the rest joint venture companies) are investing in the zones, generating 15,544 jobs (of which 7,180 are held by Lao nationals and 8,364 by foreign workers).
The value of goods exported from these zones amounted to over US$352 million and the value of products imported to the zones was worth over US$1.15 billion.
If proposed railways are built to connect Laos to its neighbours, this could create even more favourable conditions for people to do business in Laos.
SEZs have become the main driver of growth in the industrial and service sectors in Laos, laying the foundation for diversifying the nation's economy into the future.
The development of SEZs is part of the government's policy to boost economic growth and generate job opportunities through increased modernisation and industrialisation.
Existing SEZs include the That Luang Marsh specific economic zone in Vientiane, Savan-Seno special economic zone in Savannakhet province, Golden Triangle special economic zone in Bokeo province, Boten Dankham specific economic zone in Luang Namtha province, Vientiane Long Thanh Golf Course, the Phoukhiew specific economic zone in Khammuan province, and the Pakxe-Japan Specific Economic Zone in Champassak province.