VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): A total of 1,209 companies employing 63,000 people are currently in operation in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) across the country.
Head of the SEZ Promotion and Management Office, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Sonepaseuth Dalavong, reported that there are currently a number of special economic zones in eight provinces.
These zones are contracted to cover an area of more than 34,000 hectares but to date only 13,000 hectares has been built on.
SEZs have attracted investment from both Lao and foreign companies, mainly from China, Thailand and Japan.
Most of this investment has been ploughed into the Golden Triangle SEZ in Bokeo province, Boten SEZ in Luang Namtha province, Savan-Seno in Savannakhet province, and the That Luang lake Special Economic Zone in Vientiane, with taxes of 1 trillion kip being paid to the state.
The value of goods exported from SEZs has exceeded US$3 billion, while the zones have provided jobs for 32,000 Lao nationals.
Three SEZs contain dry ports - in Savannaket, Vang Tao-Phonthong area in Champassak province and the Vientiane Logistics Park, while there are inland container depots at Boten in Luang Namtha province and the Thakhaek area of Khammuan province.
An international airport is being built in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone in Bokeo province, as well as roads and other facilities to support production, trade, services and investment.
The SEZ Promotion and Management Office is pushing for improved administration of special economic zones including the establishment of a one-stop service to better facilitate investment and business operations, as part of its 2019-2024 work plan.
It is envisaged that this would expedite service delivery and increase transparency.
The SEZ Promotion and Management Office will lead efforts to draw up a SEZ strategic development plan for 2021-2030 to replace the 2011-2020 plan.
As of 2018, the zones had attracted investment capital of almost US$5.7 billion, according to a report presented at the second meeting of the Party Committee of the SEZ Promotion and Management Office.