Report on MEXPA’s visit to Embassy of the Laos People’s Democratic Republic

The delegates comprising of President Mr Abdul Kabur Ibrahim, Mr Koh See Tiang, Puan Sevaran Kaur Dhalliwal JP, Puan Azizah and Encik Saffie Bakar from the Malaysian Exporters Association met His Excellency Laos Ambassador, Khampan Anlavan on 21st May 2012.

We were met by a friendly Ambassador, who was happy to meet us and further discuss business and have more bilateral and cultural links with Malaysia. His Excellency began with the history, where he said that the Laos people had migrated into Laos from Southern China from the 8th century and the Laos state was founded and called Lan Xang Kingdom and later on split into 3 kingdoms. In 1893, these kingdoms came under Siamese (Thai) rule. Later on the French came in and made king of Luang Prabang the constitutional head. This followed by Viet Min rebellion in Vietnam. A civil war resulted where many Laos’s people were killed. A coalition government headed by Sauvanna Phouma was agreed by the three princes.

The President of state is Choummaly Sayasone and the prime minister is Bousane Bouphavanh. There is a population of 6 million and the capital is Vietname. His Excellency agreed that Laos was not developed like Malaysia and seeks all support and cooperation in terms of business and trading. Emphasis was that Laos was a peaceful loving country of friendly simple people. Laos is surrounded by China, Vietnam and Cambodia, Thailand and Burma. It is the size of Pennsylvania. Laos is a mountainous country, especially in the north and eastern areas. The Mekong river forms the boundary with Burma and Thailand, flows through the country 932 miles square (1500 km2) of its course. Land is fertile along the river.

Laos is known for its minerals and agarwood. His Excellency spoke on various subjects and emphasized in the area of education. Laos which had one university and now has nearly 8 more in the country. There was much opportunity for training skills and educational opportunities. His Excellency also suggest and proposed that a Trade Mission be organized and the embassy would do all to assist Malaysia businessmen. He further explained procedures customs, regulations pertaining to Laos’s laws. He invited businessmen to invest as opportunities also existed in the hotel, construction and medical tourism line. He suggested the best line to visit would be November 2012. His Excellency spoke of the ASEAN summit schedule this year and an invitation will be sent to Mexpa. He hoped that Malaysia Prime Minister would one day come to Laos with a delegation.

Mexpa President, Kabur Ibrahim proposed that Mexpa will organize a Luncheon Talk and hoped that His Excellency along with Malaysia companies that have invested in Laos and senior officials of government of Laos, attend this talk and meet local businessmen. Emphasis was also on the International Trade forum. Laos’s government was interested in private sector to trade and invest in land and life stock too he said.

His Excellency said arrangement will be made for Mexpa with Laos chamber of commerce too. Palm oil is being exported to Laos. There were needs of better link of transport, better rail, roads and better service. All goods were at the moment send to Thailand and by road to Laos. There is opportunity for energy, telecommunications and many more opportunities. There is a chance for Malaysia banks to look into providing services. At the moment Maybank, ICB and Islamic Banks were there. Train services are available to Bangkok (10 hours journey). Hydropower opportunities were plenty as the river Mekong flows through Laos. Coffee is another export items. As far as winter is concerned it is cold in the North.

Laos is rich in minerals and agarwood for export. His Excellency had proposed to various University in Malaysia, one such being Lim Kok Wing. There is scope for a Technical College too. His Excellency also spoke on Laos’s sugar cane industry and its potential and export. At the moment, Japan buys coffee from Laos. Malaysia business people can also look at it as an opportunity. Rice is being exported to Brunei and now Kuwait. Tourism industry is yet in the booming stage and there are a lot of opportunities. The delegates discussed freely and a decision was taken to agree
1) A Luncheon Talk
2) A Trade Mission or join in a government project.
Our visit ended with sweet memories of what His Excellency of what had said. With thanks to His Excellency the delegation left at 4pm

Report prepared by;
Puan Sevaran Kaur JP
State rep. (NS)/ Liaison officer of MEXPA