Laos, Russia push for greater political, economic cooperation

MOSCOW (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Laos and Russia have agreed to strengthen their cooperative relations in areas related to politics and military capabilities as well as economics, trade, investment and technology.

The agreement was reached during the bilateral talks held between Minister of Foreign Affairs Saleumxay Kommasith and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Moscow on June 16.

According to the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the two sides agreed to push for greater cooperation in areas related to economics and trade, investment, energy, education, science-technology, tourism, telecommunication and military matters.

Particularly, both sides would push for Russian investors some of whom are already active in Laos to further accomplish their goals for the mutual benefits of the two nations.

The two sides agreed to further support exchange visits of Lao and Russian delegations, ranging from top-level delegations to technical officials.

In addition, the two ministers agreed to organise a further meeting between the ministers of foreign affairs of Laos and Russia.

The two ministers said they highly valued the traditional relations, friendship and long-lasting cooperation between the two countries based on mutual trust, assistance and for mutual benefit.

As strategic partners, Laos and Russia have regularly exchanged visits of delegations of both countries, and the cooperation between two parliaments and between the ministries of national defence of the two countries had also been enhanced.

In addition, economic cooperation between the two countries has been strengthened.

In 2016, the value of the two-way trade reached US$16.3 million. Meanwhile, the value of Russian direct investment in Laos was valued at US$52.7 million.

According to Russian diplomats, Russia mostly exports machinery, equipment and transportation vehicles as well as precious metals and stone items to Laos.

Russia imports textiles and textile goods, timber and pulp and paper goods from Laos.

Russia is ranked 22nd among foreign investors in Laos, investing in 23 projects which are primarily related to hydropower, energy, telecommunication, e-passport and banknote printing. Concerning tourism, the number of Russian tourists visiting Laos surpassed 10,000 in 2014, rising to more than 12,000 in 2015.

With regards to education, the number of Lao students studying in Russia has seen increases year on year. In 2016, 87 Lao people were granted scholarships to study in Russian universities.

According to Russian diplomats, Russia and Laos have resolved to further strengthen their cooperation in light of Vientiane’s current role as the coordinator of Russia’s dialogue partnership with Asean.

Russia and Laos continue to strengthen bilateral relations, including through a deeper political dialogue and contact between their legislative authorities, ministries and agencies, as well as leading political parties. The countries are focused on boosting economic and investment cooperation.

The leading role in this sphere is played by the Russia-Laos Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation, according to a Russian source.