The value of trade between Laos and Vietnam last year soared to $1.37 billion, up 33.32 per cent from 2020, with the value in the first two months of this year rising by 15.39 per cent to nearly $243.2 million, according to the Lao Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

Laos’ main exports to Vietnam are wood, clothing, coffee, electricity, metals, sweetcorn and rubber. The main goods exported to Laos by Vietnam are motorcycles, rice and small iron pipes.

Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Khampheng Saysompheng announced the figures on April 11 at the 12th Vietnam-Laos Border Trade Development Cooperation Conference.

The meeting took place in Vientiane and reviewed the previous year’s implementation of the Vietnam-Laos Border Trade Agreement signed between the two governments.

The import-export departments of Vietnam and Laos have worked closely to organise fact-finding trips at some border crossings in order to spur trade development, Dr Khampheng said.

He advised the governments of Laos and Vietnam to reach consensus on policies and regulations to facilitate border trade, while also improving trade infrastructure, border markets, and joint efforts to address related issues.

Conference participants agreed that the Vietnam-Laos Border Trade Agreement had delivered positive results in many ways. Trade promotion and investment cooperation have been strengthened with the active participation of numerous businesses in Laos and Vietnam, contributing to promoting and introducing products and potentials and the strengths of border areas.

Conference delegates suggested that ministries, departments and localities should prioritise investment in infrastructure, border crossings and border markets in accordance with the plan to develop the Vietnam-Laos border market network in 2021, as well as adopting mechanisms and policies to encourage enterprises to invest in building border markets and developing infrastructure to facilitate border trade.

Laos and Vietnam have signed numerous trade agreements and memorandums of understanding in the fields of investment, transport and agriculture, creating a legal basis for further economic and trade ties.

The two sides will coordinate further to expand the scale of border goods exhibitions, organise meetings to share experiences, and create conditions and opportunities for meetings, exchanges and cooperation between the two countries’ businesses.

Regarding the development of the border market network, 36 markets have been built so far, with investment mainly sourced from budgets.

There are eight international border crossings, seven main border crossings, 18 auxiliary border crossings, many trails, and eight border economic zones on the Vietnam-Laos border.