The National Economic Analysis and Development Institute of Laos has drafted a master plan for development in nine northern provinces with the cooperation of Chinese experts from the Commission for the Reform and Development of Yunnan.
Cooperation on this project started in 2004 when Lao and Chinese officials began conducting joint studies and data collections on the economic conditions in the nine provinces.
The recently completed master plan for socio-economic development in the nine northern provinces identifies areas of development according to their potential and existing natural resources, with emphasis on areas that can be developed from now to 2020. Four major areas are identified: mining, energy, food processing and tourism.
Luang Prabang is selected to be the development center for the northern part of the country, while Vientiane, Oudomxay and Xiengkhuang will be the center for the development of the food processing industry with the aim of producing enough food to meet the need of the whole northern part and also to strive for export. Luang Namtha, Bokeo, Huaphanh, Phongsaly and Samneua, which share borders with Thailand, Burma, China and Vietnam, will be developed as transportation links with their foreign neighbors, with the aim of expanding the tourism industry and establishing free international trade zones in the future. The development will be carried out in two phases - from 2008 to 2015, and from 2015 to 2020.
Authorities say emphasis will be placed on promoting and encouraging more foreign and domestic investments in energy and mining in provinces rich in water and mineral resources.
A high ranking official with the Mining Ministry says Laos is rich in gold, copper, aluminum and iron according to the results of surveys and mapping performed for the Lao government by Chinese and Vietnamese experts.
Listen to Songrit's report for details in Lao.