An agreement for a line of credit from India to Laos for $72.55 million for two hydro power projects announced by President Pratibha Devisingh Patil in Vientiane was formally signed by Exim Bank Executive Director Prabhakar Dalal and Lao Foreign Minister Somdy Donangly at a meeting of the India-Laos Business Forum on Monday.

Addressing the Forum, President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Monday called upon Indian businessmen to avail of the opportunities provided by the new Laos investment environment and urged private investors to enter the hydropower, mining, construction, roads, railways and agricultural sectors in Laos.

Drawing attention to the series of business laws that had been enacted in Laos to simplify investment procedures and regulations, she said that there is insufficient knowledge in India of the changes in Laos, and called upon the Forum to address this issue.

Representatives from 25 Indian companies, including from CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM, the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Laos participated in the meeting. The President said that several measures had in recent years facilitated bilateral trade, currently running below US$ 7 million, such as the Duty Free Tariff Preference Scheme for Least Developed Countries and the India-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement.

Letters of Intent were signed at the Forum between the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Laos and the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the CII and ASSOCHAM.

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