The Lao government has set a target of reducing the trade deficit with Vietnam to about $227 million this year, with the country producing more products for export.

The value of imports from Vietnam to Laos is expected to touch $985.3 million, and Laos plans to achieve exports of $757.9 million, according to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Last year, Laos faced a trade deficit of $496.2 million with Vietnam, with imports valued at $1.3815 billion and exports at $885.3 million.

The main items Laos exported to Vietnam were drinking water, minerals, wood products, agricultural products – such as rubber, coffee, corn, cassava and rice – and cattle.

In contrast, imports were focused on key groups such as petroleum, fertilisers, steel, machinery, electrical equipment, construction materials and spare parts.

Economic cooperation between Laos and Vietnam has grown in recent years as the two nations have supported bilateral investment and trade. Last year, Vietnam was among Laos’ top three trade partners. Total investments by Vietnam in Laos last year were worth $4.1 billion, said a Lao report.

There are 409 Vietnamese investment projects in Laos, with most in hydropower, mining, transport, industrial tree plantations and services.

Trade and investment have played an important role in the development of both countries.

Ties between Laos and Vietnam are so strong that only one such relationship exists anywhere in the world, and the two countries enjoy a great friendship, the Vietnamese Ambassador to Laos, Nguyen Ba Hung, said in an interview on bilateral ties.

This special relationship and cooperation is reflected in all aspects of dealings between the two countries, and this confirms the close relationship is unique in the world, he said.

Cooperation between Laos and Vietnam in all fields has its roots in the two countries’ shared revolutionary movement.

Laos and Vietnam established diplomatic relations on September 5, 1962, and signed a Friendship and Cooperation Treaty on July 18, 1977, cementing their special relationship.

This year, the Lao government expects a total trade deficit of $259 million with exports of $5.516 billion and imports of $5.775 billion. Laos has been grappling with a trade deficit as the country imports more goods than it exports, especially construction materials, fuel, vehicles and other items. This resulted in Laos recording an overall trade deficit of $437 million last year. VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK