Laos and China have agreed to set up a joint committee to further broaden trade and investment cooperation along the Laos-China economic corridor.
The move is part of the two Asian nations’ desire to fulfil their goal to boost economic activity in areas through which the 426km Laos-China railway will pass after becoming operational on December 3.
A memorandum of understanding on economic collaboration was signed on November 19 during a virtual meeting between Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and Investment Dr Sonexay Siphandone and He Lifeng, head of China’s National Development and Reform Commission.
The meeting was attended by deputy ministers and other senior officials from both countries.
The two sides also signed an agreement to reaffirm and jointly support 32 cooperation projects aimed at boosting production capacity and investment.
During the talks, Dr Sonexay asked the Chinese side to provide more investment in large-scale infrastructure projects, notably the construction of expressways under the Build-Operate-Transfer model, public-private partnerships, and other forms of investment.
Over the past two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted the Lao economy, resulting in shrinking trade, investment and tourism.
However, economic cooperation between Laos and China, particularly the construction of mega projects such as the $5.9 billion Laos-China railway, continues to make progress.
The two leaders agreed to define specific ways to translate the Laos-China economic corridor development cooperation framework into practice.
China agreed to help Laos formulate action plans to boost trade, investment and tourism in areas close to the railway.
During the meeting, leaders reviewed cooperation agreements signed by the two countries in past years, notably an agreement to jointly further China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and an agreement to develop the Laos-China economic corridor from 2019-2030.
They also agreed to push for cooperation in areas relating to the sharing of technical expertise.
Earlier this month, a meeting of Lao People’s Revolutionary Party (LPRP) Politburo members and the LPRP Secretariat Committee agreed in principle to a 2019-2030 development plan alongside the Laos-China railway drawn up by the government.
However, LPRP leaders instructed the government bodies involved to revise the plan and make it more precise by defining proposed development sites in detail, and the areas to be jointly developed with China.
Party leaders will be proactive in ensuring that Laos can fully tap the potential offered by the Laos-China railway.
Preparations for the official inauguration of the railway are going full steam ahead, with the opening ceremony set to coincide with National Day of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic on December 2.
The event will begin with a religious ceremony on December 2 before the official opening ceremony the following day.
VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK