October 31, 2023
BANGKOK – Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, who is in Laos on an official visit, promised his Laotian counterpart that Thailand would help the neighbouring country become a land-linked nation from a land-locked one.
• Thai PM promises to grant Laos a soft loan for building railway bridge across Mekong
• Promises transport, logistics cooperation
• Promises to jointly develop trade area with Laos and raise bilateral trade value to US$11 billion
He also promised a soft loan for building a railway bridge across the Mekong.
Srettha met Laos PM Sonexay Siphandon on Monday morning to discuss a wide range of issues from trade, transport and logistics to infrastructure, transboundary haze and clean energy.
Government spokesman Chai Watcharong said after the two held a formal discussion, the premiers signed two memoranda of understanding before presiding over the completion of two projects marking long-standing bilateral ties.
Srettha vows to help turn Laos into ‘land-linked’ country by investing big on projects
Chai said Srettha and Sonexay had signed an MoU on cultural exchange and cooperation between Thailand’s Culture Ministry and Laos’ Information, Culture and Tourism Ministry.
The two premiers also signed an MoU on technical assistance for Laos to develop its railway system. Specifically, it was an MoU of cooperation between the Neighbouring Countries Economic Development Cooperation Agency (Neda) and Laos for technical assistance on locomotive driving and ticketing system, as well as the development of a business model on Laos’ national railway system.
The two then presided over a ceremony to mark the completion of a friendship park and an agricultural learning centre based on the sufficiency principles of King Rama IX. The two ceremonies mark the 70th anniversary of Thao-Laos diplomatic ties.
The government spokesman also said the two premiers discussed the following issues:
• Trade: Srettha pledged to jointly establish and develop a growth area between Laos and Thailand’s Northeast to achieve bilateral trade worth US$11 billion by 2025. The Thai Commerce Ministry will discuss the subject soon with its Laos counterpart.
• Basic infrastructure: Srettha promised to help develop basic infrastructure, so Laos can transform itself from a land-locked country to a land-linked one.
• Railway links: Srettha proposed that bilateral discussions on a railway bridge linking Nong Khai with Vientiane. Srettha also promised to provide a soft loan to finance the Laos side of the contract.
Srettha also proposed that the two countries speed up the drafting of a framework for technical arrangement, so a tourism rail route between Nong Khai and Vientiane can start next year.
• Transport and logistics: Srettha, meanwhile, congratulated Laos for good progress being made in the building of several friendship bridges. For instance, the 5th Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge from Bueng Kan to Bolikhamsai Province is about to be completed soon.
Chai said the two sides have also agreed in principle to build the sixth friendship bridge from Ubon Ratchathani to Salavan in Laos.
Srettha, meanwhile, has called on both sides to jointly consider measures for improving transport and logistics between the two countries, including setting clear handling charges when Thai goods use Laos’ Vientiane Logistics Park. Srettha also proposed that both countries accelerate the setting up of a common control area at the 2nd Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge in Mukdahan to reduce the joint cost of operations.
• Transborder haze: Both countries have agreed in principle to draft a joint action plan covering Thailand, Laos and Myanmar to control the transborder haze issue. Thailand will also support Laos in mapping its fire risk map.
• Clean energy: Srettha expressed interest in buying more clean energy from Laos to cope with Thailand’s expanding industrial sector.