MALAYSIAN companies are encouraged to look into business opportunities in Laos.
At the recent Malaysia-Laos Business Forum held at Matrade Kuala Lumpur, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the ministry noted the growing interest among local companies.
“The turnout at the forum was more than they had expected because even though only 200 individuals registered, more than 400 people took part.
“This shows Malaysian businesses are thinking of investing and running businesses there,” he said.
The participants were mainly those from the Malaysian private sector, including 21 Laotian business delegates from the public and private sectors in construction, agriculture, education, real estate, logistics, finance and special economic zone.
The forum, the first of its kind, sought to update Malaysian businesses on trade and investment opportunities in the country.
It was held in line with Laos Prime Minister Dr Thongloun Sisoulith’s visit to the country.
At the event, Sisoulith said the forum allowed businesses from Malaysia to directly interact with delegates from Laos to garner first-hand experience in the way business was run in the country.
He also highlighted factors that could propel business opportunities, including Laos’ strategic location bordering China, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar as well as the country’s wealth in natural resources, renewable energy and agricultural growth.
Mustapa said Laos’ focus on the advancements of infrastructure and hydropower were two of many investment opportunities businesses could explore.
“At the rate the country’s economy is growing, and with more opened borders made possible by the upcoming railway that connects Chinese borders to the borders between Laos and Thailand, Malaysian companies will be able to delve further into trade opportunities,” he said.
Mustapa said the ministry would continue to facilitate such trade opportunities, along with the commitment of other Asean countries’ ministries to increase cross country trade activities. Besides infrastructure, renewable energy and property, Mustapa also said investments in tourism, agriculture and healthcare could also be looked into.
In 2016, Malaysia’s total trade with Laos rose by 85.2% to RM128.3mil compared with the previous year. The nation’s export to the country mainly covers textiles, apparel and footwear, electrical and electronic products, machinery and parts, metal as well as chemicals and chemical products.
The business forum, organised by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) and the Laos Embassy, had a few speakers touching on key issues.
These included Laos Planning and Investment vice-minister Dr Khamlien Pholsena, Laos National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) president Oudet Souvannavong, Matrade Asean unit director Raja Badrulnizam Raja Kamalzaman and Savan Pacific Development Co Ltd Savan Park Special Economic Zone executive director Ong Chin Chai.
The issues discussed were investment promotion policies of Laos, business environment and investment potential view of the private sector, export opportunities into Laos, as well as the progress and development of the Savan Park Special Economic Zone.