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Laos

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Editorial

Overview

Laos remains one of the few one-party, communist states, meaning the legal system heavily relies on the individual in power and follows the rule of the government in place. Since the election of Bounnhang Vorachith as president in 2016, there have been changes in the country’s legal market, most notably the amended Investment Promotion Law, which came into effect in April 2017. This aims to facilitate both domestic and foreign investment in Laos by providing a more coherent and seamless process for business applications, issuing licences and obtaining the government’s approval. The amendment also seeks to provide greater clarity on eligible rights and investment incentives for business operators. Following this reform, there has been a noticeable rise in the number of foreign investors in Laos-based projects; in this context, China is a major player, although Malaysia and Thailand, among other countries, also contribute to the steady growth of investment.

Energy projects remain a key area of instruction, and in particular, hydro-power projects are very prominent as the Mekong River runs through Laos. As a result, the majority of firms in Laos’ legal market have expertise in projects and energy matters; banking is another area of expertise for many lawyers.

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