There is supposed to be an old Chinese curse, originally quoted in the 1930’s by Sir Austin Chamberlain – “May you live in interesting times”. Well, these are certainly interesting times, with fuel shortages at the pumps, rampant inflation worldwide, international stock exchange crashes, global political instability over Ukraine, foreign exchange issues and LAK devaluation all bringing this old curse to life for us right now.
On the positive side, Laos has been fully open for business since May 9th, and the tourism sector in Laos can start to recover, supporting foreign exchange reserves and the LAK. Of course, recovery will not happen overnight, but all the signs are good for a gradual return to normality, and not just for the tourism sector. Let’s hope this signals the return of less interesting, more profitable and peaceful times. We live in hope!
|A MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR|
It has been another busy month for AustCham, and a busy month for me personally. I was honoured to attend the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at the Australian Embassy and recently, I joined a delegation from the Australian Embassy on a tour of the Savan-Seno Special Economic Zone, before meeting with a group of Australian Alumni. This was a great opportunity to learn about investment opportunities in Laos and how Lao students who studied in Australia are giving back to their community.
Meanwhile Pii Mai provided a much-needed boon for many tourism related business and saw Luang Prabang return to pre-pandemic levels of celebration. This did not result in the predicted spike in COVID cases and has given the government the confidence to finally open the borders. With travel restrictions in the regions easing across the board, we hope that this will facilitate the return of international tourists, and greater ease of bringing in international experts.
One of my favorite parts of my role with AustCham is meeting with members, hearing their concerns, and discussing how AustCham can support you. AustCham exists to support its’ members and I encourage you all to reach out to me if you have anything you want to communicate to our members or supporters. I also encourage you to reach out with any concerns you have about doing business in Laos so that we can help you find a solution.
|PAST MATE TO MATE INTERVIEWS|
Watch last month's episodes of MATE to MATE, AustCham's topical interview series.
Mate to Mate 'A Diverse Workplace' with Manilath Arounlangsy, Senior Manager of External Affairs and Vannaly Phounsavath, Government Relations Manager about what strategies Phu Bia is putting in place to promote a diverse and more inclusive workplace.
Click on "read more" to play the interview!
Mate to Mate in Lao. with Ms. Maly CHITTAPHAI, Nursing director at Lao Friends Hospital for Children about the great work they do and exploring its connection to Australia.
Click on "read more" to play the interview!
|June Sundowner - Sponsored by Phu Bia Mining|
|At Lao German Technical College|
| Jun 1, 2022|
(6 PM - 9 PM)
Join us for a night of networking and socialising at the Lao German Technical College, hosted by AustCham Gold Sponsor, Phu Bia Mining. This event will showcase the partnership between Phu Bia Mining and the Lao German Technical College which is an integral part of their commitment to developing and training Lao-national employees to improve their skills and competencies.
Established in 2013 in partnership with the Lao-German Technical College, the Company’s Apprenticeship Program is considered a beacon of this commitment. The program offers trades training in automotive electrical, heavy vehicle plant mechanical, metal fabrication and welding, fitting and machining, and electrical. At the end of 2018, 85 apprentices successfully obtained Australian Certificate III trade qualification and a Lao Ministry of Education and Sport’s higher diploma and have now worked at the Company’s mobile and fixed plant maintenance departments. In 2020, the program was reintroduced as an accelerated three-year program with 40 apprentices recruited from more than 3,000 applicants across Laos.
During the Sundowner Business Networking event, the apprentices will share their experiences in their chosen area of study — in automotive electrical, heavy vehicle plant mechanical, heavy mechanical, metal fabrication and welding, fitting and machining and electrical — and demonstrate their skillsets and knowledge.
Please join us for a fun and informative evening.
Please join us on Wednesday, 25 May 2022, at 10 am (Singapore time) for a live webinar on “Practical Transfer Pricing (“TP”) Defence Strategies”.
The speakers for the event will be Adnan Begic (Transfer Pricing and International Tax Specialist – previously Head of Transfer Pricing at Michelin) and Christine Schwarzl (Regional Transfer Pricing Director at DFDL). Jack Sheehan (Partner and Head of Regional Tax Practice at DFDL) will moderate the discussion.
Our speakers will share their experience, provide an overview of the options for managing tax audits and tax dispute risks in Asia, and share practical insights into the key considerations for planning and developing a robust transfer pricing defence strategy.
Join this live webinar to find out about:
- What transfer pricing defence strategy options are available in Asia
- Why and when to develop a defence strategy or response
- Which Asian jurisdictions support the Mutual Agreement Procedure (“MAP“) and Advanced Pricing Agreements (“APAs“)
- How to deal with Competent Authorities
- How to develop a practical defence strategy (MAP and APA example)
- Tips on executing a TP defence strategy
The live event will include a Q&A session.
AustCham Lao is pleased to welcome its newest member The Makerbox Lao is the first public community makerspace/fablab in the Lao PDR. The idea of The Makerbox was born out of discussions between several people about the need for a place where people from all walks of life can come to experiment, explore and participate in developing projects that can lead to new start-ups and SMEs.
The Makerbox Lao was established by a group of 9 co-founders who range in backgrounds from agriculture and community development to data science and engineering. We have so far self-funded the space and the many different activities we have held, but we are actively seeking support from wherever it may be available.
Since our official opening in January of this year, we have helf many different workshops and events for the general public, including activities related to linux and basic computer programming, marketing, electricity and electronics, and our most recent series of events revolving around our solar system and space during our Astronomy Month.
We hope to arrange other events such as these to offer information and opportunities for exploration, while also eventually attracting young entrepreneurs who wish to develop a project with us.
Some of the up-coing events we will arrange are related to physics, environment, ecology and biology and much more, while some of the more serious projects invovle the development of an agriculture low-band communication system for rural areas to assist farmers with providing them with information about their crops; development of an air-quality monitoring system; development of a sensor array for greenhouses and crop production, and more.
We welcome anyone who wants to visit us, exchange ideas, share knowledge, or in other ways support our activities.
|NEW ANZ LAOS COUNTRY HEAD|
Sheng Lee joins our Gold Sponsor, ANZ Laos as Country Head in April 2022.
Sheng Lee joined ANZ Banking Group in 2015 and has held various senior positions within the Bank, most recently as ANZ Country Head – Vanuatu. In this role, he oversaw ANZ’s operations in New Caledonia and Kiribati. He’s seasoned finance professional with an expertise in developing countries.
Prior to ANZ, Sheng worked with Westpac Banking Corporation within their Commercial and corporate Banking Business, based in Australia and abroad.
Sheng also held roles on boards member including Treasurer of the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Director and Treasurer of the Tourism Marketing and Destination Fund (TMDF) and the Bankers Association of Vanuatu (BAV).
ANZ’s strategy is to support the trade and capital flows of our multinational customers in Laos, across our International network of 30 markets around the world and into our home markets of Australia and New Zealand. – said Sheng Lee, Country Head of ANZ Laos.
ANZ is the only AA-rated bank in Laos and it was the first international bank to enter the Laos market in 2007. With a strong focus on sustainability, ANZ’s high quality Institutional customers contribute significant foreign investment into the Laos economy, supporting employment, international best practice and ongoing revenue for the Government of Laos PDR.
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Customers will get one lucky draw coupon when purchasing a vehicle, with total prizes worth 550 million kip.
- Vehicles financed under BSP will get discount of $1,000 & will get Ford Protect maintenance package 3 years/70,000km.
- Interest rate 0.48%
- In case customer don’t want Ford Protect maintenance package 3 years/70,000k, they can choose one free item as follows: Fuel Card worth 10 million kip. or an Iphone 13 or Gold weight 1 Baht. (15.244 grams)
ລູກຄ້າທຸກຄົນທີ່ມາຊື້ລົດ ຈະໃດ້ຮັບຄູປອງລຸ້ນໂຊກຈໍານວນ 1 ໃບ, ມູນຄ່າທັງໝົດຂອງລາງວັນ 550ລ້ານກີບ.
- ສຳລັບລູກຄ້າທີ່ອອກລົດກັບ BSP ຈະໃດ້ຮັບສ່ວນຫຼຸດເຖິງ $1000 ແລະ ຟອດໂພເທັກ 3ປີ ຫຼື 70,000ກິໂລແມັດ
- ຮັບດອກດອກເບ້ຍ 0,48%
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|HANDOVER THE NEWLY CONSTRUCTED BAN NAM MO CONRETE ROAD|
Phu Bia Mining hands over the newly constructed Ban Nam Mo concrete road to Xaisomboun Province
On 21 April 2022, Phu Bia Mining handed over its 100 per cent investment in the newly constructed concrete road in Nam Mo village, located in Xaisomboun Province’s Anouvong District. The handover ceremony marks one of the Company’s largest socio-economic contributions to the province as well as the strong friendship with the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
Xaisomboun Provincial Governor, His Excellency Phoykham Houangbounguang acknowledged the substantial investment when officially receiving the concrete road from Phu Bia Mining Chairman, Mr Chanpheng Bounnaphol and Phu Bia Mining Managing Director, Wen fu Wang last week.
The sentiment was also shared by high-ranking Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic’s officials who attended the ceremony including the Vice Minister and Deputy Head of the Prime Minister’s Office, Her Excellency Madam Thippakone Chanthavongsa; the Vice Minister of Energy and Mines, His Excellency Thongphat Inthavong; the Vice Minister of Public Works and Transport, His Excellency Lan Sengaphone; and other senior Government officials and invited guests.
The following day, Phu Bia Mining hosted Government officials and local media representatives to a site visit of its flagship Phu Kham Copper-Gold Operation.
Since the commencement of the Company’s Operations in 2008, Phu Bia Mining has implemented a wide range of road infrastructure initiatives that have seen year-on-year improvements for local communities.
The Nam Mo concrete road showcases how Phu Bia Mining continues to align its community development program with the Government of Lao PDR’s land-linked strategic vision - to build an interconnected public road network system.
Phu Bia Mining’s goal, through its ongoing long-term presence in Laos, is to enable more investment in public road infrastructure and improvements for the years ahead.
Jaguar Land Rover Laos launched the latest Jaguar F-PACE besides the Range Rover Evoque which is very popular as well, at an event that strictly followed Covid-19 safety protocols, on Wednesday the 6th of April 2022 at Jaguar Land Rover Showroom, Vientiane.
Opening remarks were given by Mr. Wayne MacIntosh, Automotive Managing Director, and Mr. Biju Narayanan, General Manager of Jaguar Land Rover Lao.
Jaguar F-PACE is the first luxury SUV since 2015 so the latest model has improved its looks, technology, and performance.
The Range Rover Evoque itself is the luxury SUV that become the game changer for Land Rover and the entire automotive industry. The Evoque has been sold in Lao since 2011, and the second generation Evoque debuted in 2018. The Range Rover Evoque combines the convenience city life and off-road capability. Tough on the road and easy on the eyes.
𝗕𝗙𝗟 𝗦𝗠𝗘 𝗠𝗢𝗡𝗧𝗛: 𝗛𝗮𝗻𝗱𝘀-𝗼𝗻 𝘀𝗼𝗹𝘂𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝘀𝘂𝗽𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝗦𝗠𝗘𝘀 𝗶𝗻 𝗟𝗮𝗼𝘀!
SMEs are the backbone of the Lao economy, accounting for 97% of the private sector in Laos. As such, SMEs play role in the social and economic growth of Laos.
At BFL, we believe that providing the right solutions and support for SMEs to thrive is fundamental to a sustainable economic growth.
𝗦𝗠𝗘 𝗠𝗢𝗡𝗧𝗛 𝗜𝗡𝗜𝗧𝗜𝗔𝗧𝗜𝗩𝗘
Working with businesses means understanding their requirements and providing practical solutions to the challenges they face in their daily operations.
Because BFL understands you, SMEs, they have combined its extensive experience and expertise to offer a complete suite of financial products, advisory services, and business tools to support SMEs in Laos.
𝗦𝗠𝗘 𝗠𝗢𝗡𝗧𝗛 𝗟𝗜𝗡𝗘 𝗨𝗣
During this SME Month, BFL will be sharing tips and best practices destined to SMEs for them to build strong foundations for their business, to help them innovate and succeed.
Besides the range of banking solutions BFL has designed for businesses in Laos, we will be providing support in form of tools and in-person activity.
𝗕𝗙𝗟 𝗮𝗶𝗺 𝘁𝗼 𝗯𝗲 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝘀𝗶𝗱𝗲-𝗯𝘆-𝘀𝗶𝗱𝗲 𝗽𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗻𝗲𝗿 𝗶𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗴𝗿𝗼𝘄𝘁𝗵 𝗼𝗳 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝗯𝘂𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀𝘀!
Vientiane, April 22nd, 2022. Toyota Laos Co, Ltd the world leader in automobile car
manufacturing, announced their support for the world-wide Music project
“Resolution” for promoting the environmental preservation.
The song “Resolution” is an international song, - a project associated with WWF International to promote environmental preservation. This song has been given to more than 100 countries to participate in their own languages, and Laos has been invited to participate. The song has already been written in Lao language and approved by the Ministry of Information and Culture. Alexandra Bounxouei, who is the wildlife and ivory alliance ambassador, producing a music video using this good song to call for action to protect the planet.
On 23 April 2022, TOYOTA invited Alexandra Bounxouei to have a special ‘Talk show’
program at the TOYOTA SQUARE, and made a special concert with her.
During the mini concert Alexandra performed first public singing “Resolution” song to audiences, and talked about what is a good ‘quality for life’ in her opinion and what message do she wants deliver to the audience on the Resolution song.
Toyota Laos is continuing to support such projects to protect the global environment and nature in Laos.
Let’s celebrate 5 years Anniversary of Phongsavanh Insurance(APA) Co., Ltd
We have upgraded the product with a special promotion!!! You can choose the best for yourself and your loved one!
With Happy Health Insurance, Phongsavanh Insurance (APA) has upgraded the coverage with two new options called “Happy 7” and “Happy 8” with a
maximum coverage of more than LAK 300,000,000 so that you and your loved one can have cashless treatment in both Laos and Thailand.
The Happy Health Insurance plan will cover both Inpatient and Outpatient benefits such as:
- Hospital Service
- Operating Theatre
- Room and Board
- Daily allowance during hospitalization of up to LAK 350,000 /day
For our May promotion, customers can get discounts of up to 15% when buying Happy Health Insurance with options below:
- Buy Happy health insurance option 1-4 : Get discount 10%
- Buy Happy health insurance option 5-8 : Get discount 15%.
Valid date: 1st May 2022 – 31st May 2022
Rest assured with Happy Health Insurance from Phongsavanh Insurance (APA).
In addition, we also have more special promotions:
Buy Health insurance from 1st February until 30th June 2022 to get a chance to win a special prize (1 policy/ 1 coupon)
1st prize: 2 nights accommodation in Luang Prabang + free round trip train tickets (1 prize for 2 people)
2nd prize: 1 night accommodation in Vang Vieng (2 prizes)
3rd prize: Personal accident insurance (7 prizes)
*Terms and Conditions apply.
For more information, please contact us via 1677
Facebook page: Phongsavanh Insurance APA
Our Silver Sponsor VIS is taking in applications for the 2022-2023 school year!
VIS is the only IB World School in Laos offering the Primary Years, Middle Years, and Diploma Programs to students ages three and up. Our admitted students can enter anytime during the school year.
Ready to become a VIS Dragon? Enroll now by visiting our website page: https://www.vislao.com/join-us/admissions
Click on the logo to watch the video
|PHONGSAVANH BANK SIGNS AGREEMENT TO ACT AS AGENT FOR GOVERNMENT BONDS|
The Phongsavanh Bank, the largest privately owned commercial bank in Laos, has become the latest agent for government bonds traded on the Lao Securities Exchange (LSX). Phongsavanh Bank signed an agent partnership agreement on May 5, 2022 with three securities companies as co-arrangers - BCEL-KT Securities Co Ltd, Lanexang Securities Public Company and Lao-China Securities Co Ltd. Customers can now buy the bonds at every branch of Phongsavanh Bank nationwide. For more details, please contact call center 1188.
|BUSINESS AND ENVIROMENT INFORMATION|
RESTORING MACROECONOMIC STABILITY TO SUPPORT RECOVERY
As the Lao economy begins its recovery from the effects of the worldwide slowdown caused by COVID-19, the country faces challenges caused by long-standing macroeconomic vulnerabilities, and by new pressures, including rising global commodity prices and sharp exchange rate depreciation. Policy options are available to mitigate these threats.
- COVID-19 and the associated containment measures have heightened macroeconomic vulnerabilities and slowed economic recovery. Inflation increased from under 2% in February 2021 (year-on-year) to 9.9% in April 2022 and threatens living standards, especially in low-income urban households.
- The fiscal deficit declined in 2021, driven by higher domestic revenue and spending curbs. Domestic revenue rebounded to 12.4% of GDP in 2021, but remains below pre-pandemic levels and the regional average. High debt-service obligations and low revenue levels continue to limit the fiscal space for critical investment in human capital.
- Public debt levels have increased considerably since 2019, endangering macroeconomic stability. Public and publicly-guaranteed debt increased to 88% of GDP in 2021, with the energy sector accounting for over 30% of the debt stock, while the share of commercial debt has increased, adding pressure to liquidity management.
- Lao PDR faces both liquidity and solvency challenges due to its high debt service burden, poor revenue collection, limited financing options, and low foreign currency reserves. Debt sustainability continues to hinge on the outcome of bilateral negotiations with major creditors.
- The kip has depreciated sharply in 2021-22, by about 30% against the US dollar over the year up to April 2022, reflecting considerable external liquidity constraints. The limited availability of foreign currency, coupled with high demand — for imports and debt service repayments — has caused a demand-supply mismatch that creates strong depreciation pressures, despite significant debt service deferrals.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its containment measures have affected livelihoods in the Lao PDR. While efforts to contain the first wave of the pandemic were largely successful, the second wave, which hit Laos in April 2021, saw the number of confirmed cases surge from fewer than 50 cases to over 100,000 cases by December 2021.
The economic impacts have been substantial. On aggregate, the poverty rate (measured as $3.20 a day, 2011 PPP) is expected to increase by 2.5 percentage points in 2021, as compared with a non-COVID-19 scenario. All economic sectors have experienced adverse effects of varying intensity.
The lockdown announced in April 2021 continued to the end of the year, with restrictions being adapted to the changing situation over time. Vientiane Capital entered a full lockdown in September, following a spike in the number of cases, with mobility restrictions and social distancing measures then gradually eased from October.
Declining trading volumes and the absence of international tourism have put thousands of jobs at risk, threatening livelihoods. This negative economic impact has disproportionately affected informal workers, who lack social protection. Rising food prices have exacerbated food insecurity, especially among low-income households Some households have lost their main source of livelihoods while others have seen one of their main coping strategies — remittances from migrant workers — disappear.
Read the full brief from the World Bank by clicking the link below
Vice Minister of Health, H.E. Dr. Sanong Thongsana, and UNICEF Representative to Lao PDR, Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, co-chaired a briefing for the media on the results of the survey on COVID-19 vaccination coverage in designated tourism green zones, which include Vientiane Capital, Vientiane province, and Luang Prabang province.
The survey, which was conducted between January and March 2022, reveals that vaccination coverage in green travel zones is high, reaching 99.67 per cent coverage rate. Participants of the survey also displayed sufficient preventive knowledge of COVID-19, with the common preventive practices against COVID-19 mentioned including avoiding shaking hands (85 per cent), wearing a mask (58.9 per cent), washing hands more often (18.2 per cent) and avoiding alcohol consumption (16.5 per cent).
The survey also reveals the key sources of information on COVID-19 for the Lao people, with the majority (85 per cent) of participants saying that they receive this information primarily through Facebook; 78.7 per cent receive COVID-19 messages from workplace/colleagues and 41.3 per cent get their news from village loudspeakers.
“Lao PDR’s economic recovery is dependent on policies that support businesses and households to adapt to the new normal. To achieve this, COVID-19 vaccination coverage must be achieved at 100 per cent. Today’s presentation of the survey results suggests that we are on the right track in reaching our objective and the path towards the recovery and reopening of the country,” stated H.E. Dr. Sanong Thongsana, Vice Minister of Health.