Business operators from Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar are now using the Laos-China Railway to import and export goods to and from China and beyond.
Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry vice-president Daovone Phachanthavong told Vientiane Times that more goods are being shipped between China and ASEAN member countries through the railway.
“I think Laos’ economy will improve this year now that the Laos-China Railway is in use. Businesses in Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar are increasingly engaged in trade with China using the railway,” he said.
“I have been hired to transport goods between China and these four ASEAN countries. In addition, many people in ASEAN countries, particularly Thailand, want to travel on the railway and visit Vangvieng and Luang Prabang once the Covid-19 outbreak has subsided.”
“I am sure that when the pandemic wanes and travel restrictions are lifted, many Chinese people will also visit Laos and other ASEAN countries, and will use the railway, which will directly benefit hotels, restaurants and other businesses in the hospitality sector,” Daovone said.
Thailand recently exported its first shipment of 1,000 tonnes of rice to Chongqing in China using the Laos-China Railway.
Adviser to the Thai agriculture minister, Alongkorn Polabutr, was quoted in the Bangkok Post as saying that the Thai government was looking into exporting fruit, orchids, rubber, cassava, palm oil and fishery and livestock products by the new rail route.
Opening for service in December, the Laos-China Railway has opened up the possibility of extending export routes to Central Asia, the Middle East, Russia and Europe.
“Many companies are considering investing in Laos because goods from ASEAN countries can now be sent to Europe through the Laos-China Railway,” Daovone said.
“Rice and coffee from Laos have been shipped to Europe by rail, which saves a lot of time compared to sea transport.”
Shipment of goods from the ASEAN bloc to Europe by rail will take just over 10 days, which is much quicker than transport by sea, which takes about 45 days.
According to freight industry publication The Loadstar, using the Laos-China Railway for Chengdu-Bangkok cargo would be 78 per cent cheaper and two days faster than air, Kuala Lumpur-Chengdu would be 70 per cent cheaper with the same transit time, and Shanghai-Singapore would be 38 per cent cheaper, but four days longer.
The Laos-China Railway has so far transported more than one million passengers and 500,000 tonnes of cargo including 100,000 tonnes of cross-border goods since it became operational in December, according to Xinhua News Agency.
The Thai government has ordered the State Railway of Thailand to design and build a new bridge that will connect Nong Khai province to the railway in Vientiane.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK