Thailand and Laos aim for US$11 billion bilateral trade boost with enhanced transport links

Photo courtesy of iStock.

Thailand and Laos have set in motion plans to increase the value of bilateral trade to US$11 billion (395.7 billion baht) within the next two years, as announced by government spokesperson, Chai Wacharonke. This ambitious target was a significant point of discussion during a meeting between the Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, and his Lao counterpart, Sonexay Siphandone.

Covering an array of subjects such as trade and investment, energy cooperation, and security, the leaders also addressed matters of transport links between the two nations, including rail and road connectivity, and logistics. The vision is to transform Laos and Northeast Thailand into a thriving growth area, with Thailand showing readiness to bolster economic ties.

To reach the US$11 billion bilateral trade target by 2025, the Thai prime minister proposed that the Commerce Ministry and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Laos convene to strategise. Alongside this, the Thai PM backed the Lao government’s initiative to turn their country into a significant regional land link, with Thailand pledging to cooperate in infrastructure development and transport connectivity enhancement, reported Bangkok Post.

One of the key projects highlighted was the construction of a new railway bridge across the Mekong River, linking Nong Khai, a northeastern province of Thailand, to Vientiane, the Lao capital. Thailand is willing to extend a soft loan to Laos for the project.

The 61 year old PM also urged Laos to establish transparent cargo-handling fees at the Vientiane Logistic Park, the nation’s first integrated logistics facility. This would enable Thai operators to plan their cargo transport more effectively.

PM Srettha also proposed that Laos should restore the pre-pandemic allowance for trucks from Thailand and showed interest in buying more clean energy from Laos to support industrial growth.

Cross-border haze pollution

Another issue that both sides agreed to tackle was the problem of cross-border haze pollution. A joint action plan between Thailand, Laos and Myanmar is being fast-tracked to address this. Thailand is also ready to assist Laos in creating a fire risk map and providing training for its officials.

Following the meeting, several cooperation documents were signed between the two countries, including agreements on cultural exchange, locomotive driving training, technical assistance, and developing a business model for the Lao National Railway.

PM Srettha later met with Laos’ president and general secretary of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, Thongloun Sisoulith. The president praised the strong relations and cooperation between the two nations and expressed hope that the recent discussions would yield tangible results to benefit both countries.

As a symbol of the strengthened ties, the Thai prime minister and his Lao counterpart officially opened the Khamsavath railway station in Vientiane. The new station, which facilitates travel from Thailand to inner Vientiane, is expected to stimulate tourism and increase cross-border trade between the two countries.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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