By Suchat Sritama
Govt partners, Malaysian, Thai investors to develop special economic zone
Malaysian investor Asean Union Group has launched its second venture overseas – the Asean Paradize Savan City – in Laos with total investment of US$10 billion (Bt320 billion), comprising an offshore financial centre, entertainment, casino, and communities for foreigners.
Chew Chai Jin, chief executive officer of Asean Union Group of companies, said the development is a joint venture involving three parties – the Laos government (30 per cent), Asean Union Group, and the Savan City Co of Thai investor Chanchai Jaturaphagorn.
The Lao government has granted a 99-year exclusive bidding for the project, which is expected to start construction in July this year. By 2020, the Lao government plans to develop about 45 areas throughout the country as special economic zones. Many areas have already been promoted overseas to draw foreign investors. “Located in a special economic zone in Savannakhet province, this project will be one of the largest developments in Laos in terms of investment,” said Chew.
He said the investment in Laos is part of the group’s expansion in order to prepare for the Asean Economic Community in 2015. The group runs various businesses and development projects in Malaysia. The project in Laos is its second development project overseas after a resort in Indonesia. It also proposes to develop retail and trading projects in Thailand.
Regionally, the group has already established a funding unit and set up offices in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Macau and Laos. It will soon open an office in Bangkok. All these offices will cross-search for investors, targeting the Middle East, Japan, China, Singapore, as well as Malaysia.
Asean Paradize Savan City is located across the second Friendship Bridge between Savannakhet province in Laos and Mukdahan province in Thailand, along Mekong River, over a total area of 1,700 square rai, divided into four separate zones.
Zone A and D will be completed within the next three to five years with investment of no less than $3 billion. Zone A will comprise a commercial area, offshore financial centre, retail, entertainment complex, duty free, and hotels. Zone D will have an international school, residences, and hospital. All these facilities are set up to serve foreigners. The rest of zone B and C are designed as an industrial area and logistics hub respectively.