MOC signed between Laotian Government and JETRO
On December 15, JETRO and the Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic signed a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) to strengthen joint activities for expanding trade and investment between Japan and Laos. The ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit Meeting, attended by the leaders of each country, was held on the same day to commemorate the 40th year of ASEAN-Japan friendship and cooperation and this gave Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong an opportunity to also observe while JETRO Chairman Hiroyuki Ishige and Lao Deputy Foreign Minister Alounkeo Kittikhoun signed the MOC.
In recent years Laos has seen a growing number of Japanese firms establishing factories in the country due to changes in the investment environment in China and Thailand. It is also garnering much attention in light of the recent "China-plus-one" and "Thailand-plus-one" trends. On November 17, PM Abe had met with PM Thongsing on a trip to Laos where both leaders expressed their hopes for the JETRO Vientiane office scheduled to be established in 2014 in order to facilitate the advancement of more Japanese companies into Laos as well as to help improve the country's investment environment. JETRO plans to set up the Vientiane office with cooperation from the Laotian Government and bolster its ability to acquire information and to enhance local operations in support of Japanese firms. Through activities such as seminars, missions between both countries, dispatching experts, exhibitions and informational exchange, both parties agreed to the following goals:
- Promoting trade between both countries
- Promoting investment between both countries, in particular Japanese investment into Laos
- Developing and promoting Lao industry
- Facilitating two-way exchange between staff members through platforms such as the Asia Trade Promotion Forum
While a landlocked country with a population of only 6.5 million, Laos is of strategic importance to transportation in the Indochina Peninsula as both the East-West and North-South Economic Corridors run through its land. Because of this, a growing number of Japanese companies are reviewing the inter-process division of labor between factories of Laos and Thailand. There are also many business opportunities for industries utilizing the country's agricultural resources born from its fertile soil, its plentiful water resources throughout the Mekong River and its mineral resources such as gold, silver and copper. JETRO will continue to support trade and investment relations between Laos and Japan.