Minister: Laos, China enjoy robust cooperation in trade, investment

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Laos and China have enjoyed comprehensive cooperation with particularly robust growth in investment and trade, the Chair of the Laos-China Cooperation Committee has said.

Khemmani Pholsena, who is also Minister of Industry and Commerce, told Lao and Chinese media last week that China has been Laos’ top foreign investor.

She made the comment when addressing a press conference at her ministry ahead of the two-day state visit to Laos by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which began yesterday. 

Chinese companies have invested in almost 800 projects with a combined investment value of about US$10 billion across 14 main sectors, including mining, hydropower, agriculture, and services.

China is Laos’ second largest trading partner. Two-way trade reached US$2.34 billion in 2016 and has exhibited a remarkable rate of growth.

During the first six months of this year, two-way trade reached US$1.5 billion, an increase of 23.5 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Both sides expect to see an increase in mutual investment and trade in the years to come after the Laos-China and China-Laos Cooperation Committees agreed at their meeting in Beijing in August to improve coordination in facilitating trade and investment.

“We underlined the need to improve coordinated mechanisms to simplify and ease coordination between the ministries and localities of both sides,” Khemmani said. Both sides have held talks on working together to draw up short-, middle- and long-term cooperation plans in various fields.

Khemmani said Laos was especially looking forward to cooperating with Beijing and making use of lessons learnt by Beijing to develop Laos’ small and medium enterprises, saying China was rich in experiences in this regard.

She noted that Laos and China have long enjoyed good relations and cooperation, especially since the leaders of the two countries agreed to elevate their bilateral ties to a comprehensive cooperative strategic partnership in 2009.

In the political arena, leaders and delegations of the two countries have maintained regular contact and exchanges of visits.

The minister noted that Laos and China have also witnessed growing cooperation in the cultural and social sectors.

Beijing’s support and assistance has contributed to poverty alleviation and improved local livelihoods.

In addition, China - one of the top scholarship providers for Laos - has made a significant contribution to human resource development. There has also been an increase in the number of Chinese taking vacations in Laos, with 700,000 Chinese tourists visiting the country in 2016.

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