SEZ authorities urged to maximise benefits through better management

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The government is seeking ways to improve the management of special and specific economic zones (SEZs) across Laos in order to maximise benefits for the government, investors, developers, employees and nearby communities.  

To this end, the annual meeting on the development and management of SEZs was held in Vientiane on Tuesday at the SEZ Promotion and Management Office.

It was led by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and Investment, Dr Sonexay Siphan-done. He called upon SEZ authorities to work in collaboration for economic development and job crea-tion.

He said SEZs have made a great contribution to the Lao economy over past years due to their regular payment of taxes and meeting of other obligations. However, he said, there are still areas that need to be prioritised for specific management to ensure maximum benefits for the parties involved.

“There are some tasks to be done in this year. They should adopt measures to increase the number of local people employed, and more effectively manage the environment of the zones and engage local SMEs around the zones,” he suggested.

The deputy premier also stressed that the provision of assistance for zone developers will play a key role in improving the investment climate and strengthening the business environment in Laos.

Dr Sonexay called upon SEZ authorities and the Investment Promotion Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment to review and evaluate the agreements signed with foreign investors to ensure they are properly implemented.

He stressed the need for proper utilisation of the Savannakhet Dry Port at Savan Park Zone C as a model in integrated logistics for import and exports.

At the same meeting, the Head of the SEZ Promotion and Management Office, Mr Champa Kham-souksay, highlighted the past year’s achievements of the 12 special and specific economic zones.

In 2019, some 202 companies registered with the office, of which 193 were foreign-owned, five were joint ventures between domestic and foreign investors, and four were Lao companies.

These companies have a combined registered capital of over US$629.67 million and investment capital amounting to over US$1.4 billion.

The companies have contributed a total of 122.09 billion kip to the government, Mr Champa told the meeting.

The value of exports from SEZs reached US$394.4 million in 2019 while the value of imports hit US$1,101.5 billion. 

Exported items include electronic parts, automobile components and other products, while imported goods include machines, raw materials and construction equipment for infrastructure development in the zones.

In 2003 the government established the Savan Seno Special Economic Zone, which is also known as Savan Park, as the first special economic zone alongside the East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC).

Today there are 12 special and specific economic zones with a total of 806 companies operating in them.