Japanese Project Furthers Wood Processing in Laos

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December 13, 2016

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A project for developing human resources in the wood processing industry has achieved success, helping to improve the quality of wood products and provide new marketing tools for Laos.

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce’s Industry and Handicrafts Department and the Okawa Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday organised a final workshop to summarise the project, which ran over a period of two years.

The cooperation project was funded by Okawa City in Japan through the Okawa Chamber of Commerce and Industry at a cost of US$600,000.

The project began in 2015 and will end next year, aiming to develop human resources in the wood processing industry.

Human resource development was important in all areas of work as it was key to development, and especially this project, officials noted, which was enabling the efficient use of raw materials and improved production standards. The government considers human resource development as an important issue especially in the wood processing industry and forest management.

It is in line with Prime Ministerial Order No. 15, which aims to ensure the effective management and use of timber through the processing and adding of value to products before their export.

The project has provided wood processing training on eight occasions and furniture processing training on seven occasions.

Those to undergo the training included Lao carpenters and teachers from different furniture manufacturers, sawmills and vocational schools, under the supervision of Japanese carpenters, according to the press release.

The project also held wood and furniture processing training in Japan, especially in Okawa City, and selected two carpenters to participate in the ASEAN labour contest in Malaysia.

The course helped improve participants’ skills and increased their labour knowledge in the wood and furniture processing industry to add more value to the projects produced.

Participants also increased their understanding about how to maintain and use wood machines, wood and furniture processing techniques, colour painting, transportation and exhibitions.

Despite the project period being short, it still helped develop Lao skills in the furniture and wood processing industry according to Industry and Handicrafts Department Director General, Mr Manohak Rasachack .

The workshop was co-chaired by the Director of the Okawa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Yuichiro Tsumura.

 

Source: Vientiane Times

 

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Number of Japanese Investors in Laos Surges As Country Integrates With Region

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June 3, 2016

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MORE AND more Japanese companies are investing in Laos given that the country is integrating with the region and the world and is improving its investment climate.

As of last month, the number of Japanese companies in Laos had climbed to 132, which is double the figure recorded in 2012, according to the Japanese Embassy.

Last year, Japanese businesses operated 22 investment projects in Laos, an increase of two projects from the year before.

However, the value of Japanese investments more than halved from US$38.49 million (Bt1.37 billion) in 2014 to $17.37 million in 2015.

The decline could be linked to the fact that fewer investment projects were operated by Japanese companies in the sectors that generally require large registered capital, such as power and mining.

As for investment trends, manufacturing is the dominant sector but recently Japanese companies have diversified their interests and are increasingly targeting agriculture, banking and consulting.

One of the most interesting features is that the number of Japanese companies investing in special and special economic zones (SEZs), notably in Champassak and Savannakhet provinces, has increased significantly.

In 2014, five projects were operated by Japanese businesses in SEZs with a total value of $5.43 million, rising to 10 projects in 2015 with a total value of almost $6 million.

There is no up-to-date report on the total value of Japanese investments in Laos, but in 2013 the figure stood at $405.7 million.

The government is keen for more Japanese investors to come to Laos because they are concerned about environmental and social responsibilities.

As major investors, the Japanese see Laos as a new production base following the improvement of the country’s infrastructure, legal framework and availability of cheap labour.

One of the main reasons Japanese companies have shifted from Thailand to Laos is because of the risk of flooding, political uncertainty and an increase in the minimum wage there.

Other factors have also led companies to Laos, such as the similarities between Thailand and Laos in language and culture, and competitiveness in labour rates and electricity fees, and the stable political situation in Laos.

It is relatively easy for companies that operate and have some know-how in Thailand to move to Laos, which is known as the “Thailand Plus One” strategy.

If the Lao government further improves the business environment, this momentum of Japanese investment in Laos is expected to accelerate in the future.

There is a framework for the discussion of business environment improvement between Laos and Japan, called the “Laos-Japan Public and Private Sectors Dialogue.”

This annual dialogue began in 2007, aiming to attract more Japanese investment in Laos through discussions about how to address the challenges that Japanese companies in Laos currently face.

These discussions are beneficial for the improvement of the business environment in Laos through the direct exchange of views between the private sector and the Lao government.

Japanese experts say it would be highly appreciated if the Lao government were aware of the issues facing the business sector and formulated concrete measures to address them.

Source: The Nation

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Japanese Companies Get Big Break in Laos

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October 12, 2016

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TOKYO — Laos’ patent authority has decided to recognize patents on technologies that have been granted in Japan. The decision will allow Japanese companies to skip a slow screening process when moving operations to Laos.

Thanks to the arrangement between the two countries’ patent authorities — the Japan Patent Office and Laos’ Intellectual Property Department — Japanese companies will be able to have their technologies protected in the Southeast Asian country.

 The arrangement kicks in next month.

Japanese companies will only be required to obtain a Japanese certificate proving their technology is patented, Japan Patent Office officials said.

The arrangement follows a similar agreement Japan recently signed with Cambodia. It is part of the Japan Patent Office’s ongoing efforts to obtain cooperation with other countries in the area of intellectual property to support Japanese companies’ overseas expansion drives.

Japanese businesses have been inconvenienced by Laos’ inadequate application-screening system.

An increasing number of Japanese businesses are setting up shop in Laos, attracted by relatively cheap labor and industrial parks that offer tax breaks.

Toyota Boshoku, which makes auto interior parts, mostly for Toyota Motor, and precision machinery producer Nikon are two Japanese companies that have relocated plants from Thailand to Laos.

Source: Nikkei Asian Review

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Miss Laos 2011 visit Japan

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Japanese government invited officially Miss Laos 2011, Ms Louknum Thidalat Vongsili to Japan for one week, in order for introducing every charm in Japan! During her stay from 16th to 22th March, she visited Fukuoka to take part in one of the biggest fashion show in Japan, FACo. She visited also Takayama, an old city with lots of atmosphere, wearing Kimono (Japanese traditional cloth) and took a walk in the town. In Tokyo, she visited a Japanese high school and had a cultural exchange, had an opinion exchange with “an angel of water” in Japan, awarded in Miss Japan competition, and Japanese traditional candy making experience. Don’t you think that you also want to go to Japan??

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Source: Japan Embassy

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Ramen

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Small ramen house Italian Tomato chain in Vientiane capital, just situated in the capital just behind of the culture hall. 

https://www.google.la/maps/dir//Chao+Anou+Road,+Vientiane/@17.9683097,102.604241,12z/data=!4m5!4m4!1m0!1m2!1m1!1s0x3124686186ff41ed:0x8c509101fc39ca90?hl=en-US

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Nikon established new factory in Laos and they give priority to Lao nationals when hiring

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(Vientiane Times) Nikon Corporation established of a new factory in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) to assemble its digital SLR (Single-Lens Reflex) camera by taking the advantage of the low labor cost. The factory became operational in October 2013.

The Nikon company plans to recruit 800 people to work in a camera factory being built in Savannakhet province, and they will be required to give employment priority to Lao nationals, senior officials have said.

Deputy Director of the provincial Labour and Social Welfare Department, Mr Thandai Chanxomphou, told the Vientiane Times that investors are commonly required to give privileges to local people when hiring staff for a particular project.

“The investor is well aware of this,” he said, referring to Nikon, a Japanese multinational corporation headquartered in Tokyo.

The Lao Labour Law stipulates that at least 70 percent of the total labour force must comprise local hires, while up to 30 percent can be foreigners.

Of this 30 percent, not more than 10 percent should be labourers, while up to 20 percent may be foreign technical staff.

However, many investment projects, including some in Savannakhet, have hired overseas workers in excess of the number permitted. One of the reasons for this is the shortage of suitable local manpower, especially skilled workers.

Critics say investment projects have not created as many jobs for Lao nationals as they are supposed to because the parties responsible for turning out a skilled workforce have not been able to train people in sufficient numbers, or ensure they have the requisite skills.

Exacerbating this is the fact that thousands of unskilled people are flocking to Thailand to seek employment opportunities there, despite the fact that there is a high demand in for workers in Laos.

Laos has had to hire large numbers of skilled workers from overseas, notably from China and Vietnam, to feed the growing job market.

Last academic year, the government increased the number of scholarships it provides for people taking courses at various state-run vocational education institutes, to encourage more young people to take up professions such as mechanics, woodwork, electrical installation and other such trades.

More scholarships were offered because most people attach less importance to these kinds of trades, and would prefer to study disciplines such as banking and finance and other white collar professions, which is one of the factors behind the skilled labour shortage.

Director General of the National Economic Research Institute, Dr Liber Libouapao, said Laos will have to continue to bring in foreign nationals to work on development projects if the country is to maintain current high levels of economic growth.

Initial estimates suggest that Laos will need up to 500,000 workers by 2015, he added. However, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare says only about 55,000 Lao nationals can be recruited each year.

Observers cautioned that the planned recruitment by the Nikon Corporation factory is another test for the government in terms of whether they can properly prepare the workforce and maximize job opportunities for local people.

Nikon constructed the US$8 million factory in the Savan-Seno Special Economic Zone.

 

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LAO, JAPAN BUSINESS DIALOGUES TO BOOST INVESTMENTS IN LAOS

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Date: 14, Apr, 2016   Time: 3:12 pm

Laos is enthusiastically rolling out a welcome mat for foreign investors from both the public and private sectors, especially investors and businesses from Japan, as the country is currently ranked as the 6th foreign investor in Laos.

A joint dialogue entitled ‘The 9th Annual Meeting of the Lao-Japan Public and Private Sectors Joint Dialogues’ was held in Vientiane yesterday, seeking to boost the investment climate in Laos.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the joint dialogue, Minister of Planning and Investment Mr Somdy Duangdy, said that Japan is not only one of the biggest and most important investors in the region but it is also a key trade partner of the Asean region.

“Over the past years, Japanese investment projects have played a significant role in the investment climate in Laos, ranking at 6th place out of 53 countries investing in Laos,” he said, adding that investment projects from Japan will be on the rise over the years to come.

He noted that the overall Lao business operations environment has rapidly improved. A recent report from the World Bank and The International Finance Corporation (IFC) unveiled that the survey for business facilitation in 189 countries ranked Laos at 134th for the year 2016, up from 139th the previous year.

“This meeting will also mark a crucial role for contributing to the improvements and promotion of the investment environment, enabling business operations, trade, investment and services of Japanese people in Laos,” Mr Somdy added.

At yesterday’s meeting, the joint dialogues between the public and private sectors of Laos and Japan discussed laws and approval procedures, taxation and customs and logistics.

According to the Embassy of Japan in Laos, the annual discussion between the two sides creates a positive outcome, with a number of Japanese companies coming to Laos to conduct investment surveys in Laos over the past years.

Meanwhile more than 120 Japanese companies are already investing in various fields throughout Laos.

In 2014, Japan was ranked 7th largest foreign investor in Laos with a total of more than US$438 million. Many Japanese companies are now registered in various Laos’ Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and Specific Economic Zones.

Recently, the country has seen the establishment of the Pakxe-Japan SME SEZ Development Company Limited, a Lao-Japanese company which is seeking to facilitate the development of businesses from the two countries in a new specific economic zone (SEZ) in Champassak province.

The event was co-organised by the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Embassy of Japan in Laos in collaboration with Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC Bangkok), The Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) in Vientiane and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA Laos).

 

Source: Vientiane Times Issue 293 (17 December 2015)

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Laos, Japan forge new economic partnership

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(Vientiane Times) Laos and Japan are pushing towards greater economic development cooperation as the relationship between both governments reached a new height on Wednesday.

Japan currently ranks as the top donor for infrastructure and social development project in Laos. Last March, the government of Japan approved grant of US$32 million to Laos for development initiatives in electricity, health and transportation.

 

In Vientiane on Wednesday, a memorandum of understanding to build business and investment relationships was signed between the Acting Director of the investment Promotion Department of the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), Mr Achong Laomao, and the Head of Asia and Oceania Unit of Mizuho Bank, Mr Hiroshi Suehiro. The signing ceremony was attended by the Minister of Planning and Investment Mr Somdy Douangdy, Japanese Ambassador to Laos, Mrs Junko Yokota, and senior officials from the two countries.

It marked the first MOU which the MPI has ever signed with foreign institution. It will be one of the most effective means to promote investment and develop trust between both parties in a project which will see Japanese investors expand their business interests to Laos.

Last December, an agreement was reached between Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur du Lao public and Mizuho Bank which enhances collaborations.

Mr Achong believes that Wednesday’s MOU agreement will facilitate Mizuho Bank in expanding is financial services into the greater Mekong sub-region. Turning the Bank’s investment direction towards this regions in line with Japanese foreign policy.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has outlined a firm policy which considers Asean as a significant target for socio-economic cooperation. Therefore, Laos has taken this opportunity to promote Japanese investment through various means. To attract more Japanese investment the future, the Lao government will continue to market the manufacturing, garment and textile, modern wood processing and service industries. Other areas earmarked to attract foreign direct investment are organic farming, transportation, education, and health.

At present, Laos has created 10 special economic zones with two more on the way in the near future. the country also has numerous specific economic regions as well.

He said he is confident that the MOU will open the door to more investment and convince high quality businesses from Japan about the sustainable economic development plans in Laos.

Mr Hiroshi said Mizuho’s primary target region Is Asia. “We have been making efforts to enhance our service in this area, especially within the Mekong sub-region,” he said.

“The memorandum we signed today aims to develop the MPIs and Mizuho’s ability, to provide information to Japanese corporations which are considering expanding their businesses or investment into Laos, and also to drive our support structure for market entry and investment procedures.”

Specific initiatives will include Mizuho and the MPI holding investment seminars and providing support to Mizuho’s customers though the MPI in relation to business expansion and investment in Laos.

Mizuho Bank is a one of the major component of Mizuho Financial Group. Mizuho Financial Group is one of the world’s largest full-service financial conglomerates with offices in over 30 countries and has over 56,000 staffs worldwide. It has served customers over 140 years and it has reliable credit ratings at A+ and A- given by S&P and Fitch, respectively.

Edited by: Mr. Phouvong Phaophongsavath, IPD’s officer, Email: ipd55892212@hotmail.com Tel/Fax: (+856) 21 219568

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Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida Meets with the Deputy Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic

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1. On March 6, commencing at 4:10 p.m. for 25 minutes, Mr. Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs, held a meeting with H.E. Mr. Sonexay Siphandone, Deputy Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), who is visiting Japan by the invitation from Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The overview of the meeting is as follows.

2. At the beginning, Minister Kishida welcomed Deputy Prime Minister Sonexayto Japan, and appreciated that the Lao PDR guided the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-related meetings to success last year as the ASEAN Chair. Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay expressed gratitude for this invitation to Japan, and stated that he feels overjoyed that exchanges between Japan and the Lao PDR are prospering at various levels.

3. Following that, Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay expressed his gratitude for Japan’s attendance at last year’s ASEAN-related meetings and the various support that Japan extended at that time. In addition, Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay explained that following the entry into force of the Air Services Agreement in May last year, he hopes to make progress with the realization of direct flights. Minister Kishida explained that Japan will contribute in various fields in order to realize the Japan-Lao PDR Joint Development Cooperation Plan. Minister Kishida expressed expectation that the Lao PDR’s will improve its investment environment so that Japanese companies can set up further businesses there, and that direct flights will commence.

4. In addition, Minister Kishida stated that he also intends to coordinate closely on issues such as the situation in South China Sea near future.

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Exhibition Dolls of Japan

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March 9, 2017

Exhibition “Dolls of Japan” (10-20 March)

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