China-Laos railway could be game changer for development of Laos, says expert

VIENTIANE, Oct 19 (Xinhua): The China-Laos railway could be a game changer for the development of Laos but the government must have a clear plan on how to maximize the advantages offered by the railway, a businesswoman has said.

Local daily Vientiane Times on Tuesday quoted Vice President of the Lao National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Valy Vetsapong, as saying that the railway will have a significant impact on Laos' economy and will provide huge momentum in strengthening Laos' connectivity with the rest of the region.

"Many business operators will surely switch to exporting products, particularly agricultural products, using the railway as it will save both time and money," she said.

"The railway will result in the growth of tourism, trade and investment, especially in the processing industry, with many companies being interested in setting up factories to process agricultural products for export."

When the first passenger train which will run on the China-Laos railway arrived in Lao capital Vientiane on Saturday, many business operators were excited over the prospect of benefits the rail transport could bring.

The 422.4-km railway is expected to cut the cost of transport through Laos by 30-40 percent compared to travel by road.

Laos' tourism industry is expected to benefit greatly from the expected rise in rail passenger traffic.

Following the opening of the China-Laos railway in December 2021, the development of secondary infrastructure is expected to take place along the railway corridor.

Valy said businesses are keen to learn more about the government's plans for development along the railway corridor so they can come up with plans and strategies that will tap the potential offered by the railway.

When more information is provided, Lao business operators will be well placed to study investment opportunities and consider joint ventures with other business partners when the railway comes into service, she said.

Valy said the government should carefully consider tax exemptions for railway-related projects as this could be of real benefit to the nation.

The China-Laos Railway is a docking project between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Laos' strategy to convert itself from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub.

The project started in December 2016 and is scheduled to be completed and opened to traffic in December 2021. - Xinhua

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