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Laos seeks South Korea support for regional connectivity projects

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Lao Minister of Public Works and Transport Bounchanh Sinthavong delivers a keynote speech at the 7th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Connectivity Forum in Seoul on July 9. ASEAN-KOREA CENTER/THE KOREA HERALD

Laos seeks South Korea support for regional connectivity projects

Sharing borders with five Asean member states, Laos is seeking to facilitate the connectivity of infrastructure across the region by strengthening cooperation with South Korea.

“There have been already a number of projects supported by the Korean government and implemented by Korean private companies in the past that contributed to the Asean connectivity in Laos,” Lao Minister of Public Works and Transport Bounchanh Sinthavong said in a recent interview with the Korea Herald.

Over the last few decades, the Lao government has committed to developing policies that capture the potential economic benefits of infrastructure investment that transforms regional connectivity.

The Korean government is currently taking part in projects to protect the Mekong river bank in Vientiane and Champasak.

Korea is also participating in a feasibility study of the Asean Highway, a railway linking Laos and Vietnam, as part of Asean Connectivity 2025, a broader initiative adopted by the bloc’s leaders.

Laos runs various projects with the aim of transforming from a landlocked nation to a “land-linked” one with transit services. But the lack of technical capacity and financial resources poses challenges.

“We would like to strongly encourage both the Korean government and private companies to expand cooperation and implement more projects in order to speed up the narrowing down of the development gaps and catch up with those older Asean member states,” the minister said.

Bounchanh named priority projects for which the country is requesting support from Korea, such as Pakse airport, the protection of the Mekong river bank in other provinces and railway links from Thakhek to the Laos-Cambodia border, including logistics.

The benefit of such investments is more than just providing transit routes, he said. “I would like to emphasise that it is a vital means of stimulating growth and creating economic corridors through Laos that will allow us to graduate from the least developed country status in the next few years.”

The minister visited Seoul to attend the seventh Asean Connectivity Forum, hosted by the Asean-Korea Centre, on July 9.

The annual forum has been organised since 2013 to keep the Korean business community up to date on connectivity-related infrastructure projects in the sectors of transportation, energy, and information and communication technology in the 10 Asean member states. THE KOREA HERALD

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