VIENTIANE, April 2 (Vientiane Times/ANN): The Head of the Lao government has requested help from the leadership of Yunnan province to encourage more Chinese companies to invest in Laos, using the potential offered by the Laos-China railway to boost trade cooperation between the two countries.
During a meeting held in Vientiane this week, Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone (pic) asked the Secretary of the Communist Party of China Committee in Yunnan province, Wang Ning, to persuade Chinese companies to invest in irrigation and agriculture, with a view to bolstering crop exports.
Given the huge advantages provided by the Laos-China railway for the export sector, the government is keen to attract more foreign investment in agriculture so that more products can be exported to the Chinese market of 1.4 billion people.
Laos has huge potential to grow more crops and raise cattle for sale to China, thanks to trade privileges extended by China to Laos.
In 2021, more than 300 Chinese companies expressed interest in investing in agriculture and forestry in Laos, with investments expected to hit US$1 billion due to the export potential provided by the railway.
Key export products include bananas, rubber, cassava, sugarcane, watermelons, cattle and buffaloes, with China being the largest purchaser.
With the first cross-border passenger train expected to run on the Laos-China railway on April 13, Prime Minister Sonexay assured the Chinese side that Laos would work with China to ensure quicker cross-border transport for both goods and people.
This would facilitate trade, investment and people-to-people exchanges and also help to boost economic cooperation between Laos and China.
The Lao PM also asked Wang Ning to encourage Chinese enterprises to continue with construction of the Oudomxay-Boten section of the Vientiane–Boten Expressway and Road R3 from the Chinese border to Huayxai district in Bokeo province.
The two sides also discussed ways to resume direct flights between Laos and Yunnan province, similar to pre-Covid days.
In recent years, businesses in Yunnan province have invested in various projects in Laos, notably the Vientiane-Vangvieng expressway, Saysettha Development Zone, Yunnan province agriculture investment project, and Boten Special Economic Zone.
Last month, business operators and companies from Yunnan met Lao business representatives in Vientiane to discuss the potential and possibilities for cooperation in trade, investment and tourism.
China is Laos’ second largest trading partner. Trade between the two neighbours from 2018 and 2022 was valued at US$15.9 billion, an average annual increase of 15.63 percent.
China is also the largest foreign investor in Laos, with the value of Chinese investments in concessions and special economic zones amounting to US$13.67 billion, spread across 921 projects. - Vientiane Times/ANN