March 3, 2023
VIENTIANE – Deputy PM urges all sectors to strengthen economic ties with China
Deputy Prime Minister Saleumxay Kommasith has called on all parties concerned to do more to strengthen economic ties with China, making use of seven strategies in particular.
Firstly, he advised those involved to act as a secretariat of the Lao government in enhancing economic, trade and technical cooperation with China.
Secondly, he called for all sectors to pursue the goals spelled out in agreements reached during the state visit to China by President Thongloun Sisoulith at the end of last year, and thirdly to attract more investment from China.
The fourth approach recommended is to reinforce trade cooperation by boosting exports of clean agricultural produce, minerals and other products using the Laos-China Railway.
The fifth recommendation is to strengthen the tourism industry, particularly by improving services and facilities to accommodate the influx of Chinese visitors after China reopened its borders to outbound tourists in January.
The sixth strategy for closer economic ties is to ensure that all development projects are carried out and completed as agreed by both sides.
Finally, the deputy prime minister who is also in charge of supervising the Laos-China Cooperation Committee and the Laos-Vietnam Cooperation Committee advised strengthening the skills of workers and personnel involved in all aspects of trade with China, and to apply lessons learnt to ensure the success of cooperation projects.
Mr Saleumxay, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs, spelled out the strategies during a meeting to sum up the accomplishments of Laos-China cooperation.
He stressed the importance of Laos-China cooperation over past years, citing China’s support for Laos to overcome the Covid-19 crisis and debt distress, as well as revitalising the economy.
China is Laos’ second largest trading partner and the largest foreign investor in Laos.
From 2018 to 2022, the value of trade between the two neighbours amounted to US$15.9 billion, an average increase of 15.63 percent per year.
The main products imported by Laos from China in 2022 included machinery, electrical appliances and equipment, vehicle parts, and steel.
Mixed gold, gold bars, bananas, gold ore, iron ore, wood and furniture products, paper and paper products, fertiliser, latex, and fruit such as melon, walnuts and tamarind, were exported to China.
Since 2008, there have been 80,570 investment units in the general business sector, with a total investment value of US$477 billion. Chinese companies operate a total of 921 projects through concessions and in special economic zones, with a combined value of US$13.67 billion.
Vice President of the Laos-China Cooperation Committee, Mr Xayxana Sitthiphone, also highlighted the achievements of Laos-China cooperation.
He said Laos had asked China to approve 17 more cooperation projects in the fields of rural development, health and education.