By Souksakhone Vaenkeo
VIENTIANE - The Boten-Mohan border economic cooperation zone has received an injection of US$15.27 billion in investment.
Businesses have poured more than 100 billion yuan (US$15.27 billion) into the Laos-China Boten-Mohan border economic cooperation zone, lured by investment incentives offered by the governments of both sides, the latest data shows.
In September last year, the governments of Laos and China signed an agreement to establish the economic cooperation zone at the Boten-Mohan cross-border area, aiming to boost trade, investment and tourism in the region.
Authorities in charge of the zones expect that even more investment will be forthcoming if certain issues are addressed. These are mainly visa facilitation for businesspeople and better transportation, which should materialise when the planned Laos-China railway is operational.
So far, more than 60 investment projects amounting to 100 billion yuan have been signed for operation in the Yunnan Xishuangbanna Mohan Economic Development Zone, according to information from the authorities in charge.
Located at the Mohan Border Port, which is China’s gateway to Laos and provides access to Southeast Asia’s most convenient land route, the zone has significant investment potential, said deputy head of the committee in charge of the Yunnan Xishuangbanna Mohan Economic Development Zone, Ai La Xiang.
He made the comment during a media visit to the Mohan Border Port Office, which was part of a one-week media tour to Xishuangbanna prefecture from May 7-13 organised by the Yunnan Daily Press Group.
The zone’s focus is on building a logistics base, processing base and modern services base in four areas, with emphasis on the Yunnan Mohan Port International Logistics Park, Mohan warehousing logistics base, the State Grain Reserve Depot strategy, Vegetable Association base, mahogany market, mineral products trading centre, cross-border market, cross-border tourist resort, the old duty-free shops, hotel, and other projects.
Meanwhile, the Boten Specific Economic Zone in Luang Namtha province has attracted more than 10 billion yuan in investment from more than 10 companies, mostly from China, Logistics Deputy General Manager of the Lao Boten Economic Zone Development and Construction Group, Mr Kangpeng, said.
“The Lao government has extended sound support for the operation of the Boten Specific Economic Zone as a cooperation project between Laos and China,” he said as translated by an interpreter.
However, he called for authorities on both sides to consider granting multi-entry visas or visa exemptions for investors doing business in the 16.4 square kilometre Boten Specific Economic Zone, saying that business operators have encountered difficulties in having to apply for visas repeatedly.
He explained that only residents of Xishuangbanna are allowed to use a border pass when crossing into Laos, while residents of other parts of China need a passport and a visa.
Kangpeng said he believed that once the visa issue was addressed, it would help to attract more Chinese investors to the zone.
Investment promotion at the zone focuses on four mega projects including a duty free centre, complex bus station, a warehouse and a resort that comprises a large natural marsh, a hotel, meeting hall and leisure facilities. Business operators in these zones enjoy tax exemptions, which are a big investment incentive.
Businesses and officials on both sides said they believed that once the planned railway linking China to Southeast Asian countries via Laos is complete, it will significantly boost investment in the zones where the railway will pass through.