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Lao Small Businesspeople Invest In Foreign Countries

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While still small in number, the number of Lao businesses investing in other countries of Asean is increasing.

Meanwhile, many more businesses from Asean nations have expanded their operations to Laos following the establishment of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) on December 31, last year.

Most Lao businesses are Small/Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which include family businesses, the Young Entrepreneurs’ Association of Laos, Dr Hongkham Souvannavong told Vientiane Times last week.

So, Lao businesspeople are facing challenges in competition and are belatedly attempting to address disadvantages from a lack of professional skill and appropriate planning for successful business operations, he said.

The Lao business sector must improve its level of professionalism to survive in the rising tide of competition, leading entrepreneurs have suggested.

Meanwhile, many local business operators say they are not yet in a position to expand into other countries.

At this stage they aim to maintain their business presence in Laos and learn from others to develop their strength and expand in the future.

Lao entrepreneurs are also struggling with financial access and large numbers of them are operating their business without the benefit of partners or shared support, Dr Hongkham said.

As we know, the AEC provides us with both opportunities and challenges, and we think Lao SMEs will face more challenges than opportunities initially.

The establishment of the AEC sees increasingly freer flows of goods, services, investment, skilled labour and capital across the region.

To push Lao businesspeople to expand and progress in competition with the Asean region, the government and the business sector need to work closely to study then allocate efforts to strategic products for commercial opportunity where Laos has advantages, and secure access to raw materials and labour supply, Dr Hongkham said.

The government is also to provide a priority policy for Lao investors to attract more locally-based business operators, especially for projects that Lao companies can participate and benefit from.

In addition, Lao businesses can survive and thrive by partnering with entrepreneurs from other countries who are keenly seeking to set up joint ventures with local companies.

However, the business sector must improve in its professionalism given that all external partners want to work with those who can operate local ventures professionally.

Experiences, exchanges and study tours as well as business matching and joint training with young entrepreneur associations in the region are among important activities for Lao business as they seek a better footing to compete with other Asean counterparts in the future.

Source: Vientiane Times