Laos is emerging as a land of opportunity for property developers, ahead of the much-anticipated launch of a new high-speed train connecting the Southeast Asian country to China this week.
The Thatluang Lake Special Economic Zone, the only economic zone in the capital Vientiane, in particular, is expected to benefit, boosting the local economy and attracting foreign investors.
South Korean real estate investment company D&C Mineun held a week-long promotional seminar from November 13 to 16 in the city to discuss business opportunities in the special economic zone near Lake Thatluang, the symbol of Laos.
Some senior Lao government officials and 60 business leaders from South Korea attended the event.
It included Sinlavong Khoutphaythoune, member of the political bureau of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Central Committee, Lao Deputy Prime Minister Kikeo Khaykhamphithoune and South Korea’s Jungheung group vice-chairman Jung Won-ju.
“We want to thank [the attendees] for considering investing in Laos during a global pandemic. We look forward to responding to all inquiries, ”said Sinlavong, who is also chairman of the Lao Front for National Construction.
The Thatluang Lake Special Economic Zone development project is supported by the Laotian government and led by Shanghai-based developer Wanfeng Property.
During the event, D&C Mineun also signed a partnership agreement with the Chinese developer to take responsibility for attracting investment and selling apartments built in the region to potential South Korean investors.
The project aims to transform a 365 ha plot around Lake Thatluang into the main economic and commercial center of the country. Office space, upscale residential cities, shopping districts, research centers and the tallest Buddha statue in the world will be built in the region.
Since 2012, Wanfeng Property has contributed 2.5 billion yuan ($ 390 million) to the construction of social infrastructure, such as roads and public sites, around the lake.
Along with other facilities, a high-speed train connecting Laos and China, due to launch on December 2, is expected to be a game-changer, Laos government officials said.
Connecting the Chinese city of Kunming in the southern province of Yunnan to the Laotian capital, the 422 km railway will cut travel time from two days to three hours. The railway is also expected to be extended to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, the officials added.
The new railway will reduce overall transport time and costs for both logistics and people, removing a major hurdle for manufacturing in the landlocked country.
South Korean investors also shared a positive view of the impact the railroad would have on Laos’ economy.
“The Direct Railway will lay the foundation for the country’s economic development, just as the Gyeongbu Expressway has become an engine of economic growth for Korea. We are seriously considering investing in the project, ”said Jung, vice president of the Jungheung group.
The Laotian government has promised various tax incentives to investors in the land-use planning project.
Anyone investing more than $ 100,000 will be granted permanent residence in the country. They will also gain the right to trade and own property there for the next 99 years.
They will be exempt from property tax, property tax and possession tax, while benefiting from a 50% reduction on value added tax. Income tax will also be exempt for the first four years and later taxed at just five percent.
The government will remove import duties on equipment, materials and vehicles. Any profit made in the country can be freely moved out of Laos, government officials added.
During the event, another senior Laotian government official said that Lake Thatluang Special Economic Zone is the only one located in the capital, out of 12 in the country.
About fifty foreign companies have already expressed their willingness to invest in the region, added the official.
THE KOREA HERALD / ASIA INFORMATION NETWORK