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NEW UPDATES Asean Affairs 17 September 2015  

Prime minister, Lao counterpart increase collaboration on transport

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong held talks in Vientiane the day before yesterday on measures to step up co-operation on transport projects and trade.

The PMs expressed their delight at the growing traditional friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive collaboration between the two Parties, States and peoples.

They agreed to maintain and promote mutual trust in their political partnerships, as well as high-level delegation exchanges under various forms.

Viet Nam is one of the biggest investors in Laos, with bilateral trade gradually increasing in recent years.

Collaboration in culture, education and training, science and technology, transport and agriculture has also seen positive change.

The prime ministers agreed that the two Parties and Governments would continue to give top priority to the development of relations between Viet Nam and Laos.

They also decided to work together on important anniversaries, including the 40th anniversary of Lao National Day (December 2) and the 95th birth anniversary of President Kaysone Phomvihane.

The two sides will also prepare for the 38th session of the Inter-Governmental Committee and the annual consultation between the two countries' deputy prime ministers and foreign ministers in late 2015. PM Dung said Viet Nam would help Laos fulfill the role of ASEAN Chair in 2016.

They decided to work together to implement a new trade agreement and the agreement on cross-border trade of goods and services while seeking to increase trade to US$2 billion in 2015. They'll also support Vietnamese and Lao enterprises that run investment projects in the respective countries, particularly the construction of bonded warehouses and oil pipelines from Hon La Port in Viet Nam's Quang Binh Province to the Lao province of Khammouane.

Transport connections will also improve, including the creation of a highway connecting Vientiane-Pac San (Laos) with Thanh Thuy-Ha Noi (Viet Nam) and the route from Phuthitphong in Luang Prabang Province to Naxon, bordering Dien Bien Dong District in Viet Nam's northern province of Dien Bien.

The two prime ministers also examined international issues of mutual concern and agreed to promote co-operative ties between the two countries at regional and international forums, especially within the ASEAN framework to maintain the bloc's common voice on strategic issues such as the East Sea.

The Lao PM said the construction of the kali salt processing project in Laos' Khammouan Province would help both sides, propelling bilateral co-operation forward on economics, trade, investment, labour and technology.

After the talks, the two prime ministers witnessed the signing of a governmental Memorandum of Understanding on strategic co-operation in transport from 2016 to 2025.

PM makes visits

Prime Minister Dung met with Vietnamese businessmen operating in Laos yesterday as part of his official visit to the neighbouring country.

He praised the community's efforts, which have made Viet Nam the second largest investor in Laos, saying the two nations' investment-trade collaboration achievements have generated mutual benefits and contributed to their special traditional ties.

Supporting effective Viet Nam-Laos investment cooperation, he urged the association of Vietnamese investors in Laos to actively propose suitable policies and mechanisms to both Governments and their relevant agencies to develop bilateral cooperation in an intensive and effective manner.

Dung stated Viet Nam created favourable conditions for the business community abroad and is working closely with Laos to clear hurdles in their activities.

The meeting also concluded the Prime Minister's Laos visit.

According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, approximately US$5.2 billion from Viet Nam has been channeled into 261 projects in Laos, the largest sum of outbound investment from Viet Nam.

The inflow added $200 million in 2014 and an estimated $260 million in 2015 to the Lao budget while creating jobs for more than 30,000 local residents.

The energy sector holds the largest project proportion at 26 per cent, followed by agro-forestry at 23 per cent, infrastructure at 20 per cent and mining at 19 per cent.

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