Chinese entrepreneurs in Laos’ capital Vientiane are allegedly importing vehicles from China illegally for car rental and taxi businesses, much to the ire of their Lao competitors, RFA learned Friday.
The cars imported from China are mostly luxury vehicles and the businesses are meant to serve Chinese tourists.
An official of Vientiane’s Industry and Trade Department told RFA’s Lao Service Thursday many of the imported cars have not been properly registered.
“There are many cars with Chinese license plates running around,” the official said.
“According to the rules, the vehicles must be registered and have Lao license plates,” the official added.
According to the official, Lao license plates for rental cars can only be obtained when the owner has a valid business license, suggesting that the owners of the cars with Chinese plates skipped out on registering their businesses.
An official from Vientiane’s transportation department however confirmed to RFA that the Chinese-plated cars were actually legal.
“The Chinese cars are legally imported from China. They still have Chinese license plates because they are in the process of being registered,” said the transportation official.
But despite that official’s account, the owner of a Lao car rental company told RFA said he believed the opposite.
“There are many Chinese car rental companies in the city and most of their cars are luxury models illegally imported from China,” the owner said.
He also said that the Chinese companies only serve Chinese tourists and businesspeople, even illegally selling the cars in Laos.
An official from the city’s planning and investment department told RFA that the Chinese businesses had a sizable presence in the capital.
“Right now there are many Chinese car rental operations in the capital. At least 10. Most of their cars are Mercedes Benzes and Toyotas,” the official said.
A taxi driver said the new Chinese taxis were bad for Lao drivers.
“The authorities shouldn’t allow foreigners to do this kind of business and take away our jobs, but they did,” he said.
He added that the government should do something to reserve car rental and taxi driving jobs for Laotians.
Article 11 of the Lao transport law states that all vehicles belonging to individuals or businesses that providing services in the country must be properly registered with the Lao authorities and having proper license plates.
Reported and translated by RFA's Lao Service. Written in English by Eugene Whong.