Laos Ministry of Industry and Commerce has issued a decision on shopping centres and department stores to regulate their development and investment. The new rule allows foreign investors to hold 100 per cent of shares for every project with a minimal total investment of US$19.6 million or higher. For projects with an investment comprised between US$9.8 and 19.6 million, foreign investors will be able to retain 70% of the share while for projects inferior to US9.8 million, investors will be able to keep 51% of the shares. The decision was signed in September but has been officially promulgated this October.
Part of the decision states that the establishment of shopping centres and department stores shall be in line with the urban planning and the socio-economic development plan of the government – ensuring sustainability, contributing to socio-economic development, and complying with building, safety and environmentally friendly standards.
Shopping centres and department stores have been popping up for more than ten years in Vientiane. These include Lao World Group’s Lao ITECC, Sky Supermarket, Latsavong Plaza, Vientiane Centre, Talatsao Mall, and Xang Jiang with Chinese investors holding the majority of shares.