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July 4, 2008

Laos accelerates northern development
Laos is drafting a master plan for economic development, especially in mining, hydropower, agricultural product processing and tourism, in its nine northern provinces, in a bid to accelerate poverty reduction, Lao newspaper Vientiane Times reported Thursday.

Government officials have selected Luang Prabang province as the hub for economic development in the northern region. The northern provinces of Vientiane, Oudomxay and Xieng Khuang will focus on food production and processing.

The Boten-Bohan border crossing linking Laos and China, and the border between Bokeo province in Laos and Chiang Rai province in Thailand are proposed as the main border economic zones. Nameo village in Huaphan province will be the focus of border trade between Laos and Vietnam.

Economic development will focus on three economic corridors: the north-south economic corridor running from southern China to Luang Namtha and Bokeo provinces and Thailand, the second corridor stretching from the Chinese border to Luang Prabang province, and the third one from Thailand through northern Laos to Vietnam.

The master plan, initiated in 2004 with support and expertise from the Chinese government, will be completed at the end of this year, the newspaper said.

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