October 24, 2023
VIENTAINE – Asean, Gulf countries urged to strengthen energy, economic cooperation
Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone has called for Asean nations and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to seek ways to strengthen their cooperation in the fields of energy, agriculture, connectivity and tourism.
The Lao premier made the call at the Asean-Gulf Cooperation Council Summit held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Friday, which was attended by leaders from two regions.
Dr Sonexay also informed those attending the summit about Laos’ preparations to assume the Asean chair next year, under the theme ‘Asean: Enhancing Connectivity and Resilience’.
The Lao PM pledged to work closely with Asean and GCC member countries to reinforce cooperative relations between the two blocs in order to bring tangible benefits to the two regions.
In addition, Dr Sonexay informed the summit that Laos is hosting the Visit Laos Year tourism campaign in 2024 and invited people from the Asean and GCC regions to visit Laos.
The premier said the Asean-Gulf Cooperation Council Summit was a historic milestone in the history of the two sides’ relationship, which dates back to 1990.
At the summit, leaders from Asean and the GCC countries (Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and the UAE) voiced their appreciation for the gathering, saying it was important for strengthening collaboration between the two regions.
Leaders agreed to push for stronger cooperation in trade, investment and energy. In 2022, two-way trade between the two regions reached US$142.25 billion and investment flows totalled US$523.46 million.
The value of trade between Asean nations (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and the Philippines) currently stands at more than US$110 billion.
The leaders also stressed the need to strengthen engagement in tourism, human resource development, education, vocational training, capacity building and people-to-people links through cultural exchanges.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh called for the two regions to create favourable conditions for investment and for companies in the GCC countries to invest more in Asean member countries as well as support Asean nations to boost the export of goods and services to the Persian Gulf region, according to the Vietnam News.
At the end of the summit, leaders adopted a Joint Statement outlining the directions and drivers for elevating Asean-GCC ties to new heights, for peace, cooperation and mutual development.
Through the Asean-Gulf Cooperation Council Framework of Cooperation for 2024-2028, Asean and the GCC intend to further strengthen their partnership to fulfil the potential for greater cooperation between the two regions, as previously stated at the two Asean-GCC Ministerial Meetings held in September 2018 and September 2019.