Posted on : 08-09-2020 | Back | Print


31st August, 2020 (Monday)

The first Interaction online Video Conference on “Trade and Investment Opportunities between India and Lao PDR- post Covid-19” was organised by the Federation of Indian Exporters Organizations (FIEO) and Embassy of India to the Lao PDR in cooperation with the Lao National Chamber of Commercial and Industry (LNCCI) and Embassy of Lao PDR to India, on 31st August 2020. The main objective of the Video Conference was to understand the present status of economic situation in Lao PDR in view of Covid-19 pandemic and to explore opportunities to expand trade and investment between the two countries.

At the opening remark, Dr. Ajay Sahai, Director General & CEO, FIEO, delivered the welcome address. He said that India enjoyed long-standing, friendly and mutually supportive relations with Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR). This relationship is based upon profound historical and civilizational foundations. While acknowledging the friendly ties between the two countries, he that unfortunately we had not realised the true potential in the economic and commercial field that exists between India and Lao PDR. In particular, Dr. Sahai pointed out to the opportunity in agriculture sector as Lao PDR has huge tracts of fertile land.

Addressing the participants, H.E. Mr. Dinkar Asthana, Ambassador of India to Lao PDR, said India and Lao PDR share long-standing religious, cultural, and people-to-people linkages going back long into history. He added that India's development cooperation portfolio in Lao PDR stretches across a broad canvass — inter alia, spanning capacity building to Quick Impact Projects for socio-economic development under grant assistance to projects under lines of credit or soft loans. The trade between the two countries is very small and should be increased; much of the imports to India from Lao PDR are natural resource based material and India too is keen that Lao PDR should transform itself from into exporting value added products. Similarly India is also keen to increase its exports to Lao PDR. He added that, therefore, four sectors pharmaceuticals, automobile, engineering equipment and agriculture had been identified for this seminar as it was felt to have potential.

Ambassador of Lao PDR to India, H.E. Mr. Bounneme CHOUANGHOM also apprised participants about India’s contribution to the social and economic development of Lao PDR in recent years especially in area of human resource development through providing scholarship to Lao students to study in India, conducting several training programmes done by the Lao India Centre for Excellence in Software Development and Training (CSEDT) and also contributed in heritage conservation project. The Ambassador expressed his gratitude towards Indian Government for extending medical support to Lao PDR during Covid-19 pandemic. To improve trade and investment between the two countries, he said that the Government of Lao PDR is committed to ease and relax relevant policies and highlighted that now the registration of new companies takes only 30 days, improved from earlier 107 days.

Mr. Oudet SOUVANNAVONG, President, Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LNCCI) said that the economic exchange between Lao PDR and India has a lot of potential for increase. He further said that LNCCI will cooperate with FIEO to enhance trade between the countries.

Dr Mana SOUTHICHACK, Economist & Investment Advisor briefed the participants on the Lao economy. He said that in the first half of the last decade Lao economy achieved 8% growth rate and then slowed down to 6-7% in last few years. In 2019, the growth was less than 5%. He further stated that Lao economy has been hugely impacted by Covid-19 pandemic. However, in spite of Lao PDR being landlocked, the strategic location of Lao PDR has made it a better supply hub and a business operation centre for the region as the infrastructure of the country continued to be more developed. He explained that Lao economy in recent years has been undergoing structural changes as the manufacturing industry and service sector is growing.

Dr Kulwant Singh, Advisor and Consultant while focusing on agriculture sector shared with the participants the opportunities available for the Indian companies in the Agriculture Market of Lao PDR. Mr Sihamano BANNAVONG, CEO of Viengthong Pharma shared with the participants the opportunities available in the LAO Pharma and traditional medicine sector. Mr. BANNAVONG gave a very lucid presentation covering various aspects of the functioning areas of his company and how Viengthong Pharma is working with the community for sustainable supplies through contract farming and thereby contributing in the development of the community.

Mr Biju Narayanan, Senior Manager in RMA Lao explained to the participants the opportunities available for the Indian manufacturers in the Lao Automobile sector. He said that Lao PDR Automobile sector is going to grow at a larger pace after 2020 and Indian players should start making strategies to enter Lao PDR markets. Ms Pathoumphone PHETSAVONG, Vice Chairman, Vientiane Automation and Solution Engineering (VASE) thanked the Embassy of India for organizing such an important virtual business session. She along with her team gave a very detailed presentation about the operations of VASE and also shared their engagements with Indian companies in hydro power and electricity transmission projects.

Mr Soukthavy Chowdhury, Vice Chairman & MD, HSMM Group along with his colleague Mr. Haider while sharing a brief presentation on their group highlighted its mission of growing 1 million Agarwood trees. The last speakers, Ms. Sudha Wadhwani, Marketing Specialist explained to the participants the differences in culture, consumption pattern, buying habits and perception of the two countries and how facebook is being widely used in Lao PDR for marketing.

The first ever video conference has attracted more than 100 Indian and Lao PDR participants from different sectors and found the interaction very useful and informative.


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