Leveraging Lao SEZs to Promote Regional Integration and Attract Investment

Jean-Paul Gauthier and Ambasador Michael Grau (German Embassy to Lao PDR) meet with Governor Santiphab Phomvihane, Governor of Savannaketh Province. Locus has helped advise zones policy discussions for the Lao government since 2015.

In 2015, the government of Laos requested that Locus Economica assist it with the development of its new special economic zone program as part of a technical assistance package from the Government of Germany (GIZ).  We have been helping identify fundamental market gaps in Laos and evaluating how SEZs can address those gaps.

Locus Economica founder and CEO Jean-Paul Gauthier at Boten, one of Lao PDR's SEZs.

Locus Economica founder and CEO Jean-Paul Gauthier at Boten, one of Lao PDR's SEZs.

This effort has involved:

  • Drafting an SEZ Law
  • Development of an SEZ Strategy
  • Assessment of economic patterns, weaknesses, and strategic opportunities
  • Benchmarking regional competitors
  • Determining whether Laos' current SEZs are competitive internationally
  • Recommendations for redesign of the SEZ program
  • Determining how the SEZ program can improve the investment climate in Laos.
  • Conducting site assessments of existing SEZs

Our work will culminate in recommended changes to the current SEZ law that are in accordance with our findings.

Lao PDR's membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) provides the country with big opportunities for attracting investment, especially as the region becomes more integrated.  Lao SEZs appear to be both drivers of that integration and key recipients of the investment  More than 213 companies are now investing USD 4.2 billion in the country's SEZs, and have future investment plans of USD 17.39 billion.