VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Authorities from Vietnam’s Ha Tinh province have voiced support for the Lao Logistics Link (LLL) project as Lao and Vietnamese investors are set to negotiate the transfer of a larger share of a Vietnamese sea port, which is part of the LLL, to Laos.
The Vietnamese government has agreed to increase Laos’ shareholding in the Vung Ang seaport, located in Ha Tinh province, from the current 20 per cent to 60 per cent.
Visiting the Vientiane Logistics Park on Tuesday (Juy 5), the Deputy Secretary of Ha Tinh Province’s Party Committee, Vo Trong Hai, told the Chairman of the Vientiane Logistics Park Co, Ltd., Mr Chanthone Sitthixay, that his province fully supported the cooperation project.
The Vientiane Logistics Park and its Thanalaeng Dry Port are a part of the Lao Logistics Link.
The packaged LLL project is being developed by Petroleum Trading Lao Public Company (PetroTrade), where Chanthone is the Chairman of the Board of Directors, in partnership with the Lao and Vietnamese governments.
Vo Trong Hai informed Chanthone that on the same day he had called on Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh and learnt that the Lao and Vietnamese leadership attached great importance to bringing the LLL project to fruition.
Vo Trong Hai, who is also Chairman of Ha Tinh’s People Committee, encouraged both sides to work together to realise the cooperation project.
“We have asked the Lao government to urgently coordinate with the Vietnamese government to build a railway project that will link Vung Ang port to Thakhaek (the capital of Khammuan province),” he told Chanthone through an interpreter.
The planned Vung Ang-Thakhaek railway is a part of the planned railway connecting the Lao capital Vientiane to Vung Ang port. The railway is also part of the LLL project.
Vo Trong Hai and his entourage visited the provinces of Khammuan and Borikhamxay as well as the capital Vientiane, with the rail link designed to pass through these three areas.
The railway and the port will offer the most convenient and cost-effective transport route for products shipped from Laos and Thailand’s northeastern provinces to markets in the Pacific region.
The port is currently in operation and handles containers and cargo consisting of woodchips, potassium, gypsum, iron ore and coal.
A research marketing study conducted by the consulting firm Royal HaskoningDHV and other sources showed that in 2014 the Vung Ang port handled 2.9 million tonnes of dry bulk cargo and 462 TEU containers.
It is estimated that these volumes will rise to 20.2 million tonnes of dry bulk cargo and 240,460 TEU containers by 2030, according to a video presentation by the Lao investor.
To capture potential growth, the Lao investor in cooperation with the governments of Laos and Vietnam plans to invest up to US$300 million to upgrade facilities, machinery and equipment in berths 1 and 2 and construction of the planned berth 3 at the port.
Located 145km from the Napao-Chalo border crossing between Laos’ Khammuan province and Vietnam, the port is well positioned to serve as a gateway between central Vietnam, central Laos and northeastern Thailand.
Chanthone informed the guests that he was ready to depart for Vietnam to negotiate with his Vietnamese partner to reach common ground on the transfer of the shares in the seaport.
He also told the guests that his company plans to start construction of the section of the Vung Ang-Thakhaek railway from Thakhaek to the Laos-Vietnam border at the end of this year. It is expected to take two and a half years to build this section of the railway.
Chanthone also briefed the guests about the ongoing development of the Vientiane Logistics Park and Thanalaeng Dry Port – an integrated logistics system that will accelerate cross-border trade and drive a major shift from sea trade to road and rail for landlocked Laos.
Last week, a freight transit yard was officially put into operation at the dry port, creating a link between the standard-gauge Laos-China railway and the one-metre-gauge Laos-Thailand railway.
Opened for service in December last year, the US$727 million project also offers investment opportunities through its Tank Farm - a fuel distribution centre, a Free Trade Zone, and an Export Processing Zone.
Chanthone said he expected that products from Europe and China would be repackaged at these zones for export to Asean markets, given that cost-effective transport and the Asean free trade zone of which Laos is a part would make Laos a very attractive investment destination.
It is estimated that 2 million containers a year will be moved through the Thanaleng Dry Port to and from Asean, China and Europe.